Geoff Young writes about west coast teams for the "Western Front" column, but he'll take your questions about any clubs in his Friday afternoon chat.
Geoff Young: Good morning, all, and welcome to the end of the work week. Let's talk baseball, shall we?
wauzer (Milwaukee): East Coast question from the midwest. Over the second half how far will R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana fall off from their first half performances?
Geoff Young: Well, I don't think Santana will throw another no-hitter. And I doubt Dickey will throw another one-hitter.
Santana has posted a 5.67 ERA in seven starts since the no-no, and batters are hitting .291/.345/.544 against him over that period. He is better than that, but I think the real concern is workload. How many more innings can he pitch after sitting out all of 2011?
As for Dickey, sometimes knuckleballers have great years. Joe Niekro in 1982. Charlie Hough in 1985. Tim Wakefield in 1995 and 2002. Dickey seems to be having one of those years, as he did in 2010, but with a much higher (and more baffling) strikeout rate. How far will he fall? On the one hand, he has allowed five runs in three of his last four starts, so maybe it's already starting. On the other, he allowed eight in his third start of the year and then went 9-0 with a 1.21 ERA over his next 11. I don't know where his pitches are headed, I don't know where his season is headed.
j (some yankee town): Ive recently acquired joey votto in a ss league and been offered jj and zimmermann. what are your thoughts for jj in the second half.
Geoff Young: Depends on who J.J. is. If it's Putz, I think he'll improve a little but not enough to be interesting. If it's Hardy, he also is capable of better things. If it's Josh Johnson, same thing, but with perpetual injury risk. Who else is there? J.J. Hoover. Jon Jay. Jair Jurrjens. John Jaso. Jim Johnson. I'm not getting warm and fuzzy about any of these guys. So I guess it doesn't depend on who J.J. is. Good chance of small improvement, but nothing exciting. I wouldn't trade Votto for Zimmermann and anyone with the initials J.J.
Corey (San Diego): A sleeper you like in the Padres system?
Geoff Young: Is Jace Peterson considered a sleeper? I like his skill set. Middle infielders who can hit near the top of the lineup are always useful. Vince Belnome could develop into a utility player. A couple of right-handers at Lake Elsinore, Matt Andriese and Burch Smith, are intriguing. Ditto Matthew Wisler at Fort Wayne. Kevin Quackenbush is a reliever but might be something.
Sizzle (MA): Your expectations for Travis Snider rest of season? He has recently improved his K:BB ratio at AAA and hopefully that translates to big league success.
Geoff Young: Snider has a solid minor-league track record and is still young enough to put it together. As Josh Reddick is reminding us all, sometimes it takes a while for everything to click. Will Snider be a star? No, but he should improve on last year's trial run and could have a decent career. He hit .249/.315/.443 in nearly 600 PA for Toronto in 2009 and 2010. That seems like a reasonable baseline for the immediate future.
dianagram (NYC): Come August 1, Gyorko will be playing (position) in (city), while Headley will be playing (position) in (city).
Geoff Young: My crystal ball shows Gyorko splitting time between second and third at Tucson, with Headley remaining at the hot corner in San Diego. Gyorko probably could come up and contribute right now, but Headley is a better third baseman and the Padres won't move him unless they are overwhelmed by an offer. Meanwhile, they need to continue evaluating Alexi Amarista and Logan Forsythe at second. It's a bit of a logjam, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Bryant (San Diego): What's going on with Cory Spangenberg?
Geoff Young: Spangenberg is doing almost exactly what he did at Fort Wayne last season, in a league more conducive to offense. The numbers (.288/.330/.384) are a bit disappointing, but he is a 21-year-old second baseman in High-A, so I'm not concerned yet. I'd like to see him draw a few more walks, but I think he'll be fine.
jeff (new york ): hey, i'm getting a little bump from the recent padre wins. Would would keep Quentin and chase headley?
what would you do to get us playing for a division title next or next next year?
Geoff Young: The Padres have talked about signing Quentin long term. The idea makes sense from a lot of angles: he's from the area, he's relatively young, and he can hit. Still, the injury history is a concern. That and the unsettled ownership situation make it difficult to guess what moves will be made. If the current front office survives ownership transition, I like the team's chances to extend Quentin. Then it's just a matter of hoping he stays healthy.
A division title next year? Getting the Astros in the NL West rather than the AL West would have helped. Short of that, I'm not sure. Keeping the young guys, particularly the pitchers, off the DL seems a good place to start.
Bryant (San Diego): We know you'll miss Adys Portillo as he's ticketed to San Antonio, but who else do you look forward to seeing in Lake Elsinore as a possible late-season promotion?
Geoff Young: I would love to see Peterson or Austin Hedges, maybe Wisler. Given his age (22), Peterson seems the most likely.
Tom M. (Toronto): Thoughts on the Blue Jays-Astros trade?
Geoff Young: The Astros got some guys who might be something in the future for some guys who aren't much right now. I have trouble understanding this from Toronto's side.
10graham43 (Louisville, KY): Geoff, Should Reds fans just accept Jay Bruce for who he is? Or, will he at some point acquire plate discipline and/or quit trying to pull everything? Also, why does the Reds manager continue to wear those silly wristbands?
Geoff Young: This is a horrible comp, but Bruce is sort of taking the Eric Chavez path. Early success creates expectations. When he turns out to be very good instead of great, people are disappointed. Most players aren't perennial MVP candidates. Bruce has been named to two All-Star teams and he's 25 years old. I'd suggest being happy with what he is now and being pleasantly surprised if he develops further. It could happen, but removing the expectation makes life easier for everyone.
As for the wristbands, that's just Dusty being Dusty.
Sizzle (MA): Are you a believer in Dan Straily?
Geoff Young: Straily is putting up ridiculous numbers this year. Midland is a tough place to pitch and he handled it with ease before being promoted to Triple-A. I want to believe in Straily because it's awesome when a 24th round pick makes it.
I haven't seen him pitch, nor am I an expert on prospects. Kevin Goldstein, who is, just talked about him yesterday and had glowing things to say: "His fastball features above-average velocity and command, and his slider is solid, but it's his changeup that has developed into an absolute weapon; an easy plus pitch with good deception in his delivery and plenty of late break. If the Athletics go with the plan of being both buyers and sellers in the next 12 days, a Bartolo Colon deal could create an opening for Straily, and he sure looked ready last night."
Without having seen Straily myself, KG's endorsement is good enough for me.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Hey Geoff, I understand you went on a beer tour of sorts recently. Where'd you go and what'd you like the most?
Geoff Young: I had to consult my notes for this one. We drove along the coast from San Diego to Seattle, then back via Portland. My bias is toward dark beers, particularly porters, brown ales, and stouts. My favorites (in order of when they were consumed) included Southern Oregon Pin-up Porter, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Chocolate Stout, MacPelican Scottish Style Ale, Pelican Tsunami Stout, Mac and Jack's African Amber, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, Standing Stone Oatmeal Stout, Caldera Hemp Brown Ale, Caldera Pilot Rock Porter, and Caldera Mogli Chocolate Bourbon Oak Aged Imperial Porter. As you can see, I did a lot of research.
Cam (Santa cruz): Long time ducksnorts reader here, good to see you are doing well Geoff. What did you think of the padres draft? My biased view thinks its in the top 3 becuz of the 4 picks at the top, the fact they didn't punt rounds 6-10, and becuz the nabbed a lot of HSs after round 10. What do you think?
Geoff Young: Thanks, Cam, for the kind words. It's so difficult to judge a draft immediately after it takes place, but given what we know about these kids right now, I like the team's haul. The Padres were aggressive with their picks and got guys signed. Now we just have to wait 5-10 years to see what happens. If the scouts were right and the player development folks do their jobs, maybe two or three of these kids can contribute to the big club at some point.
nickwynne (Bakersfield, CA): What gets resolved first: the Time Warner/Fox SD debacle, or the Padres ownership situation?
Geoff Young: Hey Nick. First off, I'm going to use this as an excuse to tell folks that they should visit the ballpark in Bakersfield if they ever get a chance. It isn't a great park, but it is the most unusual setup I've seen anywhere. I mean, it's funky.
Anyway, as to your actual question, I think the ownership situation gets resolved first. MLB has a vested interest in making that happen. With the TV deal, everyone already has their money so there's no real incentive to satisfy existing or potential customers.
But yeah, this has been a weird season. I live less than 10 miles from Petco Park and I've seen 5 innings of the Padres on TV. The cable companies have made it very difficult for residents/fans to follow the team. How this benefits anyone is left to the imagination.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): If you are the Pirates (yes, all of them, you're very big) what would you try to do by the deadline?
Geoff Young: The Pirates are in such an unusual position this year versus, oh, whenever Barry Bonds left. They could use help in any area not covered by Andrew McCutchen, James McDonald, or the bullpen. I'd be looking to upgrading at shortstop and the rotation. I don't have specific names in mind, but that would be my focus. The division, and the entire league, is still pretty wide open.
Geoff Young: Okay, that's my time. Thanks for all the excellent questions. We'll do it again soon.