The playoff slate may well be set, but ask Joe Sheehan about what's to come as we head into the season's final weekend.
Joe Sheehan: I'm an idiot, but I'm an entertaining idiot!
nicopad (midtown): Hi Joe,
Two months ago the playoffs looked very promising. Now, i dont know- seems like the Yanks will roll and the nl teams look lame. Any reason(s) to keep watching?
Joe Sheehan: I disagree. I think you have four very evenly matched teams in the NL, and the Red Sox/Angels series is something like the second-best and third-best teams in baseball playing to advance. Finally, the Yankees were a big favorite in the ALDS in 2006, so... I think we're in for a great October. (We're due for one.)
Joe V. (Washington, DC): Hi Joe. Joba's poor command and diminished velocity: a) poor mechanics, b) exhaustion, c) last year's shoulder problems have changed him forever, d) something else?
Joe Sheehan: First of all, he should have diminished velocity. You don't throw as hard making 3x starts as you do throwing 80 IP out of the pen. Secondly, I hate how they handled him this year, and while I can respect the effort to try something different, it failed, and it really seemed to mess with him. I give him something of a pass for the last two months.
There's such an expectations issue, and we saw that with Buchholz as well. Young pitchers don't always have the Jair Jurrjens launch. Long answer short, if the Yankees take the training wheels off Chamberlain, he'll give them 190-200 IP and an ERA around 3.50.
Hawkeye (Grafton, ND): Thanks for the chat Joe
I like the Seattle management team. What should they do in the off-season and is Brandon Morrow a possible 2 in the rotation?
Joe Sheehan: They have to keep the focus on the long term, because despite the success this season, I don't think the talent base is there for a big 2010 season. The emphasis on defense is something to retain, and whether that means bringing back Chavez or finding someone like him, a plan that continues to try and max out the run prevention in order to help pitchers along seems like it can win up there. Oh, and for the love of god, don't re-sign Griffey.
I like Morrow a lot; he's been jerked around even more than Chamberlain has, but maybe that ends up saving wear on his arm. He'll be the #1 if they trade Hernandez.
Shane (East Coast): Joe, if you were JP Ricciardi, or his replacement, who you sign Adam Lind to an extension now, or wait and see 'til next season to see if he can even come close to producing this level of performance again. Ricciardi got burned by signing Hinske up to soon. Thanks.
Joe Sheehan: I don't think Lind is someone you need to make that kind of commitment to. DHs aren't building blocks, and he's a bit older, so if you can sign away arb at a reasonable price, fine, but don't sweat buying out FA years. And yeah, I'd probably make him do it twice anyway (I think he can).
Rick (Chicago): Joe, what are your thoughts on the fact that the playoffs don't mirror the regular season in structure. After 6 months of playing 5-6 days a week, they get frequent days and criss-cross the country. Obviously this is done to maximize revenue (both in the cities and TV), but wouldn't a 4/3 game home-and-away for the higher seed make for better baseball?
Joe Sheehan: Well, 4/3 is a non-starter. I actually looked, and if an AL team were to max out its games, it would play 12 games in 21 days. That's awful, the NBA-ization of the schedule, and it absolutely has to be reined in. The only off days should be for travel, and there can be fewer scheduled ones between series.
One of the biggest quiet mistakes MLB has made over the past 30 seasons is giving away control of its postseason schedule. Bud Selig is always willing to badmouth players--let's see him stand up to TV execs for once and get control over the postseason calendar so that postseason baseball looks at least a bit more like the regular season. Not exactly like it, but a little more.
akachazz (DC): The Red Sox are a pretty smart organization. I would expect a smart organization to not play Jason Varitek at all when they have Victor Martinez. Will I be disappointed?
Joe Sheehan: I think the lineup they started last night is what we'll see next week, with J.D. Drew in right field instead of...Gathright or Reddick, I forget who started. Martinez catches and bats third.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Tigers' fan here that sees trouble this weekend. Its been a fun year considering the clubs' flaws and how they've stayed afloat despite them. Can you "crystal ball" the weekend for the Tigers?
Joe Sheehan: There six distinct events. The Tigers need just two of them to break their way. One of them has Zack Greinke going for them, which is very good. They're playing a team that isn't playing well, and they miss that team's best starter.
I know we're talking about the team that got swept at home three years ago to fall out of the division lead, but realistically, I figure they're 9-1 to get in.
Brad (Chicago): Moment of silence for the Chicago Olympic bid? Sad day, was really looking forward to a once in a lifetime experience.
Joe Sheehan: Yeah, I go the other way. I'd like to see all the money promised to the IOC (like the NCAA, but more evil) and its event now be distributed in a useful manner throughout Chicago. I'm sure that will happen.
Matt (Malone, NY): In a world where Fernando Tatis gets another shot, shouldn't Richie Sexson find work somewhere?
Joe Sheehan: Tatis' 2008 was awfully good, and he can pretend to play all the corners. Sexson hasn't had that kind of year in forever and is a one-trick pony. Then again, he'd be about the sixth-best Royal.
William (Mobile, AL ): Is it fair for Bravesfans to wonder what might have been if the Braves would have called up Tommy Hanson sooner then they did ?
Joe Sheehan: Nah. There was no case for it. The biggest what-if is had they signed Dunn or Abreu rather than Anderson. The offense killed them.
Dan (NJ): If the Yankees are to be undone in October, what will have caused it?
Joe Sheehan: The middle to back of the pitching staff. Maybe the bad versions of Burnett and Pettitte show up, and the relievers in the fifth through seventh fail.
For which A-Rod will be blamed.
Steve (NYC): Joe, this is going to come across as sour grapes from a fan of a small market team, but how can anyone respect what the Yankees did by signing 50% of all free agent contracts (measured by total value)? It took no intelligence or skill, just a huge checkbook.
Joe Sheehan: What should they have done instead?
Dan (NJ): A couple of months ago I asked you, "Scherzer or Chamberlain?" You answered, "Chamberlain." Has that changed?
Joe Sheehan: Nope. Scherzer's mechanics have improved a bit, but I'm still a little more concerned about his medium-term health than I am Chamberlain's. This is, you have to admit, a hell of a choice--both can be very good.
ssimon (Pelham, NY): The Mets have huge question marks at CF and SS with the injuries to Beltran and Reyes. How should the team approach this offseason? Pray its stars are healthy?
Joe Sheehan: Given that they have no corner outfielders worth a damn, I might think about talking to Beltran and seeing if he'd be amenable to sliding over to right, which would open up center field for a trade acquisition. I'd rather try to a acquire a longer-term solution in CF than a corner guy who's likely to be overpriced.
But mostly you pray. The Mets sucked this year because all their best players got hurt. Maybe they wouldn't have won, anyway, but I think the primary cause dwarfs all others.
strupp (Madison): Joe, I'm disaapointed in you. You know that the money raised for Chicago's Olympic bid wasn't a choice of "We can raise money for this or for new schools" scenario... it was money that was raised for the Olympic bid or wasn't being spent at all... c'mon man. I ain't saying it's right, but let's be realistic.
Joe Sheehan: I'm saying if the money is there for the Olympic boondoggle, it SHOULD be there for the things Chicago needs. Not all of it (much of it will be private money that now goes to Rio), but enough of it to make a difference.
Steve (NYC): Well, for one thing, Teixeira was an unnecessary luxury. They had just pilfered Swisher from the White Sox and had Nady to play RF (he didn't get hurt until May). Why was that not good enough, especially after signing two large contracts?
Joe Sheehan: What would you have them do with their revenues?
I will never, ever, ever comprehend people who get mad when a team does whatever it can to win. Thirty owners like the Steinbrenner family would do more for competitive balance in baseball than any revenue sharing system you can dream of. MLB went far too many years picking owners based on their loyalty to Selig's desire to beat the players rather than their desire to own a baseball team for the right reasons. They then set up a system to pander to those owners. This, more than anything else, is why you're asking me these questions.
Owners who want to win championships are the oldest market inefficiency.
faithdies (DE): At some point the Phillies are going to have to part with Werth or Victorino. Who would you want to keep and why?
Joe Sheehan: Neither, but if I have to choose, Victorino is younger and has less of an injury history. I like both players now (I really love Werth), but I'm not completely convinced that signing either down the road will be a better idea than trading them or just taking the draft picks and using the money on a better player. Mid-level guys are where all the risk and very little of the reward lies.
dtwhite (Toronto): Have you followed the Phoenix Coyotes saga this summer? What do you think is the most deserving unserved baseball market?
Joe Sheehan: I have not. I'm pretty astounded that hockey hasn't established itself firmly in a desert. Weird.
My feeling about baseball markets is that all of the available ones would be "small market" and an eventual drain on the industry. I used to like the idea of another team in the NY area, but I'm increasingly convinced that the lack of a differentiated product, scheduling conflicts and TV saturation would cause it to fail.
So I don't think there's a good candidate for moving or expansion. There's just no place with enough positives. You'd just create more leeches on the system.
Brad (Chicago): I was actully hoping that having the Olympics would cause Chicago to fix all of the CTAs problems and we would be left with a better public transportation system... like something you see in Dubai or Japan. Chicago keeps saying it's a world class city, I was hoping that this would cause them to fix the things that are keeping them from actually being one. I love chicago, but it needs work.
Joe Sheehan: If a locality needs the Olympics to justify changes to its infrastructure, it's approaching the problem in the kind of ass-backwards way that justifies my most libertarian instincts about government.
Ted Williams's frozen head (Arizona): Are the White Sox really entertaining the idea of a Zambrano for Peavy swap or is it just a figment in a Chicago beat writer's imagination (that ended up on every sports blog)?
Joe Sheehan: You need something to write about, and one team had a rainout, and the other an off-day. Just saying.
Matt (Chicago): Joe -- the three NL division winners seem to be sleepwalking to the playoffs. Do you see anything that portends carry-over to the playoffs or is this just teams getting healthy/mailing it in?
Joe Sheehan: I don't see any connection between end-of-season performance and DS performance, and I'll have an article on that before the playoffs start.
Steve (NYC): Come on Joe, you know the problem is that there is no way the 29 other teams can operate in the same manner. Do you think a fan in KC could pay $400 per ticket for each game, no matter how many games they win? You ask what to do with the revenues? Keep some and return the rest to the fans with more reasonable pricing. Maybe return some to the city for their financial support in building the stadium?
Joe Sheehan: Prices are a function of demand, not revenues, and "reasonable" is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Me, I'd like to live on the Upper West Side for $850 a month, but I'm not running around whining about "reasonable" pricing for apartments.
(In fact, the lack of demand for the highest-priced tickets is going to cause them to drop next year. See, the market works.)
In any case, the Yankees are generating ridiculous amounts of money for the industry, so maybe it's time to stop taking their cash while telling them how to run their business. The incessant whining would be better aimed at ownership groups who want the tax and publicity benefits of owning a baseball team while continuing to run it like a corner grocery.
Tom (Cleveland): You view small market teams as a drain on the industry? Who will the Yankees and Red Sox play for 162 games?
Wouldn't going to a new market create more baseball fans overall and increase industry wide revenue in a place like Portland?
Joe Sheehan: No.
Dave (NJ): I know the Yankees will choose the series format that allows them to avoid using Joba in the first round, but does it concern you at all that that also means they could face Verlander twice?
Joe Sheehan: They'll face Verlander twice in any case unless things go really poorly for the Tigers this weekend, so that's not a concern. The longer format probably just means he'd pitch Game Four instead of Game Five.
David (Winston Salem): Do you think the Tigers will manage to contend in 2010? The AL Central still looks pretty weak- maybe a shrewd FA signing or two could put Detroit over the top.
Joe Sheehan: They spent $18 million on a right fielder, so that's something.
Seriously, they'll be in the mix next year, as their rotation is good, the bullpen might be better if Perry and Ni take larger roles, and you can find bats on the market. The main problem is an organizational investment in sinks like Inge and Laird. They need to do better.
Lincoln (Dallas): Joe, please tell Ron Washington, Michael Young, and the hoards of Ranger fans that signing Marlon Byrd in free agency is a bad idea...
Joe Sheehan: The devil is in the details. I'd take Byrd back on a two-year deal for the kind of money those deals usually entail. It's a lefty-heavy outfield, and Byrd's a nice fourth OF. If it takes more than that, or any kind of PT assurance, you have to let him go.
Phil S. (NJ): Does Mike Stanton get a shot in the Marlins' OF sometime next summer?
Joe Sheehan: I would think so. I wish to whatever you pray to that they'd put Coghlan back at third base where he belongs, because that would be a big upgrade for them.
ct tiger (ct): Porcello lock up the rookie of the year?
Joe Sheehan: Had a very long conversation about this with a voter last night, and while I won't give away my top three (ballot article to come), I can tell you I have no SPs on it.
I think you could see four or five guys get first-place votes in the BBWAA balloting. There'll probably be a lot of localized voting.
bill (boston): Bill James wrote a lengthy piece (granted, about 25 years ago) suggesting that the country could support 100 or so independent teams; across the pond, England (to choose a country) has a professional soccer system with four tiers of teams across a much smaller surface area.
If you make the minor leagues independent and institute promotion and relegation, you really don't think that there'd be more money into the game?
Joe Sheehan: Loved the piece, which was in the 1988 Abstract, my first, but no one's going to do a complete reboot of professional sports in America short of some catastrophic event. It's like the proposals for realigning MLB along revenue lines, or for eliminating the electoral college, or bringing back well-written broadcast TV. It's dreamland.
Matt (Malone, NY): Does a trade for BJ Upton make sense for the Mets?
Joe Sheehan: I fail to see what the Mets could put together to pull this off. This is a problem for that organization right now, and not just in trying to make a trade with a deep organization like the Rays.
Hawkeye (Grafton, ND): I know you're a Adam Jones fan.
What do you see for next year?
Joe Sheehan: Continued broad-based improvement, with an emphasis on pitch recognition that shows up in his walk rate and line-drive rate, with a season that reverses this one--slower start, bigger finish.
Cox813 (NJ): What moves should the Braves make this offseason, if any? If you assume that they re-sign LaRoche for a year or two and that Heyward gets called up next year, it would seem that they're pretty set to compete again. Should they re-sign Hudson?
Joe Sheehan: Hudson's deal involves an option, which I would pick up because it's money they have and he'd allow them to trade a starter. I'd advocated moving Jurrjens, but I'm less certain of that now, because while I think there's risk with him, there's clearly upside. But he could bring back the kind of hitter the Braves could really use, a talent-under-control like Jurrjens. I don't know that Vazquez or Lowe brings that kind of player back. Well, I know Lowe doesn't.
In any case, they need at least two outfielders, even granting Heyward gets there in the summer. Nate McLouth is still a fourth OF masquerading as a starting CF.
Wendy (Madrid): Is there any chance that Adam Jones ends up better than Mike Cameron, because that's who he looks like to me... decent, but not a star.
Joe Sheehan: The performance is distributed differently, but I think if Adam Jones had Mike Cameron's career he'd be pretty happy. That's a hell of a career.
shall14 (Beverly, MA): With the decade almost over, what was the worst trade of the 00's?
Joe Sheehan: The Bedard deal, I think, because it was absurd even in the moment.
shall14 (Beverly, MA): What kind of contract would you sign Jason Bay for? I wouldn't want to go longer than 3 years, or 3 with a vesting option. I don't think he will age well into his mid-late 30's.
Joe Sheehan: Sorry, folks, connectivity issue.
I would be leery of a long commitment to Bay. His defense hasn't really recovered from the knee injury, which limits his overall value. I'm not a big Matt Holliday guy, but Bay and Holliday will be comps this winter, and while I think Holliday will be overpaid, Bay might be *really* overpaid.
strupp (Madison): Does Chone Figgins solve some,most, or all of the Cubs problems next year... he can float between 2nd and CF, hit leadoff, OB%, little more speed in a useful role... but he's a bit more elderly than I'd like...
Joe Sheehan: Yeah, I wanted to not like his free agency, but more and more, I think he might be a guy who sustains his value for a while. He has become a great leadoff guy with a broad base of skills. He does seem to play one position better than a bunch, and really, the flexibility he provides is overstated--he's been a 3B for three years, and has just 70 innings elsewhere the last two. The Cubs are a fit, but so are 25 other teams, including his current one. I think he ends up back in Anaheim.
RayDiPerna (NYC): Isn't the quiet September a true indictment against the idea that the wild card "makes the races more interesting"? I realize it's only one data point, but the lack of races this September was a real problem.
Joe Sheehan: I wouldn't use it that way. The wild-card does two things: ensures that the second-best team in the league will always make the playoffs, and in many years, moves the cutoff closer to the middle of the curve. The "more interesting" is really just a function of lowering the bar for making the postseason. Many people like it, I think the damage to the regular season has hurt the game a lot; MLB has devalued it for nearly two decades, and a lot of the perceived slump in MLB's popularity is, IMO, self-caused by the degradation of the value of the regular season.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Worst trade of the 00s has to be June 27, 2002: Omar Minaya of the Montreal Expos trades away Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew. As a Nats fan, I still have delusions of how what they'd be doing right now.
Joe Sheehan: I'll always defend that one. On that date, Minaya had little reason to believe those players would ever be Expos. He did exactly the right thing under those circumstances.
ElAngelo (New York, NY): Pierzynski for Liriano, Nathan and Boof! has to be in the discussion for worst trade, no?
Joe Sheehan: Two years ago, maybe, but two of those guys are zeroes.
MT (Boston): In the "absurd even in the moment" category, it's tough to beat the Kazmir-Zambrano swap.
Joe Sheehan: I'd list that second, because the legend of Kazmir has run a bit ahead of the reality, and I tend to think offseason deals, not made in the heat of a race, should be judged more harshly.
Andy (Saskatoon): Does Andy Marte deserve a starting spot on the Indians next year? And what is the perception of Grady Sizemore? Still a top ten player to build around?
Joe Sheehan: He deserves consideration, anyway. The Indians' LF/1B/3B situation might need clarity, which I would provide with a long overdue trade of Jhonny Peralta. That still leaves Matt LaPorta, who ends up at first once Michael Brantley is deemed ready. Not sure Marte can fade all this competition.
jklein (Tinley Park, Il): I always thought Josh Hamilton for 50K was a pretty bad deal...that's in retrospect. obviously in the moment nobody really thought it'd turn out this way.
Joe Sheehan: Another case where the player is five lengths behind the legend. Hamilton has had two good halves in three years and couldn't stay on the field in two of them.
Manny D. (Boston): Um... should I pack for the ALDS, or am I a cheerleader?
Joe Sheehan: Lots of questions in this vein, about roster choices for the DSs. In all cases, I'm dodging them because the teams themselves are still deciding, and probably will be for another five days.
Candide (Little Neck, NY): Who should finish second in the NL MVP voting? Hanley? Utley? The extremely under appreciated Matt Kemp?
Joe Sheehan: Pujols, maybe?
I want to take a real good look at the defensive metrics on Utley. I expect Pujols stays ahead of him, but the question should at least be asked. My top three are those two and Hanley in some order, then probably some SPs and Kemp.
hvonhaef (Houston): What do you make of the Yanks winning over a 100 games? Is that the kiss of death for them to win it all?
Joe Sheehan: They're way over their Pythag, which is a little bit bullpen and a little bit luck. The number won't mean anything come Wednesday.
Steve A (Detroit): Do you think the Tigers will really pitch Figaro tomorrow if the division still isn't sealed up? The Twins play in the late afternoon, so an emergency starter could be ready on standby, if needed.
Joe Sheehan: Aren't both teams in the Fox slot? Seems it'd be a little unfair to move one and not the other, as there is some advantage to playing later. Anyway, none of this is knowable until we see what happens tonight. I think the Tigers should err on the side of planning for the DS until Sunday, and if things have gone bad, adjust then.
Dan (NJ): Chances Bobby V is in NY instead of Bristol on Opening Day next season?
Joe Sheehan: None.
russadams (Metrodome): Will the late season "surge" cause the Twins to overlook that they had 3 or 4 holes in the lineup every night and just as many in the rotation?
Joe Sheehan: You wouldn't think a team would keep coming back to Nick Punto, but...
They got a small pass on the rotation, which would look much better with two of Slowey, Perkins and Liriano actually healthy. There's enough pitching here, but they need a lot of offensive help.
R. Amaro (Philly): Any chance I can unload Raul Ibanez on someone this winter and sign Holliday? Who should I call?
Joe Sheehan: Brian Sabean has to be the first call. And the second. Maybe the Braves.
Frank Costanza (Queens): Are we any closer to getting your picks for surprise stars from each of the playoff teams?
Joe Sheehan: It's like asking me eight questions at once. Not easy. Brett Gardner. Billy Wagner. Aubrey Huff. Erick Aybar. Chan Ho Park. Colby Rasmus. Hong-Chih Kuo. Dexter Fowler.
Phil S. (NJ): Noting both hitting and defense, is Jeter's '99, '06, or '09 season his best?
Joe Sheehan: '99, I believe. This year is second.
markbhey (STL): Joe -- any chances of a BP iPhone App?
Joe Sheehan: I have no idea. Running this so staff sees it.
mattymatty2000 (Phillly, PA): Best starting staff in the playoffs?
Joe Sheehan: Cards.
Flynnbot (IL): thoughts on the future for Sam Fuld and Jake Fox?
Joe Sheehan: Fuld is just a guy, a decent fourth OF. Fox is valuable, enough bat to play third or catcher, almost enough glove to do either. I'd play him nearly every day somewhere given the age, injury and performance issues at the various spots.
paulbellows (Calgary): Joe Mauer will stop being a regular catcher in ___ and move to ___?
Joe Sheehan: I'm off this. I think I was wrong about him--he's breaking the mold in many ways.
mafrth77 (Boston): getting nothing for Santana and costing your team a playoff appearence should be on the list of worst trades.
Joe Sheehan: Honestly, that was only the second worst trade they made that winter.
buffum (Austin TX): Who would be the best choice for the new Cleveland Indians manager? Who will they pick instead? I'm thinking Manny Acta.
Joe Sheehan: Boy, I'd love to see that. Smart front office, infinitely more talent than he had in D.C. Let's start that rumor.
dtwhite (Toronto): Most underappreciated season this year?
Joe Sheehan: Javier Vazquez or Chase Utley.
Brendan (Chicago): What will Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill look like in two years?
Joe Sheehan: Hudson and Mulder.
Greg (NYC): Biggest managerial blunder in the post-season will be made by_________.
Joe Sheehan: an umpire.
(Damn, I missed the word "managerial.")
Anybody catch Hunter Wendelstedt's performance in San Francisco this week? Invented a strike against Justin Upton Tuesday, then went after the D'backs Wednesday. I sure hope he's working next week.
rosineater (Tucson): Carlos Gonzalez most likely outcome as a player?
Joe Sheehan: Five names ran through my head and none quite fit. What if you had Vernon Wells' career value, but without the peaks and valleys?
ct tiger (ct): playoff star who is most likely to let down in the playoffs?
Joe Sheehan: I just hope to god it's not Alex Rodriguez. I just don't want to read, listen, talk about that storyline again. Ever.
Chomsky (NY): Is there any reason? For anything? Is it all just random chance? Help!
Joe Sheehan: Baseball.
Joe Sheehan: I'm back sometime next week, I think. Look for lots of playoff-flavored content as we get set for what's going to be a very fun October!