Transcript

Baseball

Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 27, 2005; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Dave Sheinin was online Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the latest news in Major League Baseball.

A transcript follows.

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Dave Sheinin: Hi folks. Welcome to another baseball chat. Before we get started, let me first plug another on-line chat on our site that you're going to want to check out. In Gene Weingarten's chat today, he wrote this long, crazy intro about what would happen if the New York Yankees somehow acquired The Flash and put him in their lineup. (Of course, he means the superhero Flash, as opposed to relief pitcher Tom "Flash" Gordon.) It's a hilarious riff, and as if that's not enough, he also welcomes questions about "your mama." Ok, let's get to your questions... and please, nothing about your mama.

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washingtonpost.com: Discussion Transcript: Chatological Humor (Sept. 27)

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Herndon, Va.: Who might you nominate for the 2 Most Valuable Nationals? As an aside, who do you think merits the 'Unsung Hero Award' for this past season?

Dave Sheinin: Wouldn't it be almost impossible to list anyone besides Chad Cordero and Livan Hernandez as the finalists for Most Valuable Nationals? As for the unsung hero, how about catcher Brian Schneider?

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Virginia: Dave,

Wondering if you have any thoughts on Jay Gibbon's recent comments that the Orioles have officially packed it in and are basically playing out the string.

Also, as an insider, can you answer this question for me: do the O's include language in their contracts that the team has to play hard and try to win only until September and then they are allowed to roll over like dogs? Do these players who are counting the hours until the season is over still get a full paycheck for these last few weeks? And do the ticket holders who pay money (in turn, the player's salaries) to see the team play get to a discount to see them play with less intensity?

If they can't play hard for the fans, the manager (who the players supposedly want back next year?), or their integrity given their obscenely large paychecks, then I don't see why I'll spend the money to go see them next year.

Thanks for another great year of regular season coverage.

Dave Sheinin: Hey Virginia... I think Gibbons probably regrets being so open and honest to the media. Personally, I like him for that very reason -- he's not like a lot of athletes who measure every word to make sure it's as vanilla as possible and, thus, won't offend anybody. I don't think he meant to imply the team had quit -- just that this season had become to unbelievably horrible that the players, in all honesty, could not wait for it to be over. However, that doesn't excuse the Orioles for another lifeless finish. You are absolutely justified in questioning their motivation here at the end.

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Arlington, Va.: Wow -- Raffy's latest attempt to explain away his positive steroid test makes one wonder if he is using mind-altering drugs as well. Seriously, what could be worse than implicating a teammate and how do you explain that kind of distorted rationalization? He would have been better off claiming he was abducted by aliens and subjected to their experiments. I read that his perjury defense will be based on the Tejada B-12 syringe as well. He would have done less damage to his reputation by just coming clean. It is sad and amazing how so many people see honesty as the last choice, especially considering how the public loves to forgive and forget someone who 'fesses up to their wrongdoing.

Dave Sheinin: You're absolutely right, Arlington. Here's the question I'd like to know: Who is giving this guy his legal and PR advice? (I'm told it is not coming from his agent, Arn Tellem, but rather from his lawyers.) Every time Raffy opens his mouth (or issues another "statement"), he digs himself a deeper hole. If he's not going to tell the absolute truth, he needs to keep his mouth shut. At this point, he has already cost himself whatever chance he had of landing a contract offer for the 2006 season from anybody.

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3rd base: Dave,

Will Selig decide on the new owners by October, so they can get going on off-season plans? Also, if the new owners make a change at GM, what are some names we might hear about?

Thanks for your time.

Dave Sheinin: It's a tricky deal... Bud Selig has a policy of not making major announcements during the playoffs, which means -- unless he makes an exception -- the announcement of the Nationals' owner will not happen until November. (Well, I suppose technically there are still a few more days left this week, but... ) As for the potential GM candidates, I keep hearing the same names thrown around: Brian Cashman, Josh Byrnes, Gerry Hunsicker, Pat Gillick, etc.

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Bethesda, Md.: Dave,

What are the realistic chances the Nationals land free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett during the off-season?

Dave Sheinin: I don't want to kill anybody's hopes -- and I do think it's a possibility. But this winter's free agent market is so thin, there seems little doubt in my mind that Burnett is going to wind up with one of the rich teams -- Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, etc. Yes, Burnett's wife is from Annapolis, and yes, the Nationals' new owners will probably make a slight boost to the 2006 payroll. But it's definitely going to be a seller's market -- and I believe Burnett will get higher offers elsewhere.

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New York: I have been loving the Nat's season from afar. And I need to say, thank the Baseball Gods for giving the Washington Area another team to root for, especially in the wake of the embarrassment that is the Orioles. As far as I'm concerned, the Nats can be the as bad as the Rays or the Pirates for the next thirty years, as long as they continue to compete with class and fairness. Thanks, Nats for a wonderful year, and allowing me to hang my head high... amen.

Dave Sheinin: Thank you.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Dave, do you agree with Weingarten that The Flash would be able to bunt big-league pitching? How can foot speed help him in the batter's box?

Dave Sheinin: I don't know how all that foot speed is going to help him get a bunt down on a chin-high fastball. Oh, and besides, the bunt is evil. Didn't you read my story a few weeks ago?

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Frederick, Md.: Dave, how much impact did the Palmiero and Ponson situations have on the collapse of the O's? The first two months they seemed to be a playoff caliber team. Now, they seem to be a shell. Does this bode bad for Perlozzo? He seems to have a the ability to be good big league manager. Thanks

Dave Sheinin: I don't think any sane person would attribute the Orioles' collapse these last couple of months to the managing of Sam Perlozzo. This process began well before he was named manager on Aug. 4. The fact is, the Orioles have the worst -- repeat: THE WORST -- record in all of baseball in the second half of the season. Yes, the Palmeiro and Ponson "situations" had a lot to do with it. But more importantly, I think key injuries (Bedard, Javy Lopez, etc.) had more to do with it.

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Nats fan in Baltimore: Hey Dave: the season (around here) coming to a close. A great year for the Nats and the District; baseball should have been here a long time ago, and this year the Nats demonstrated that the area will support them without too much (if any) drain on the Orioles. So good for them, but bad for the Orioles, who are perhaps in the worst shape they have ever been in. Three guys sent home early. A two-headed GM that other GM's don't want to waste their time with, because they lack authority to pull the trigger. Seas of empty green seats, not because of the Nats, but because the team sucks, but because people hate the owner, who they feel is an egocentric meddler who has destroyed the once proud "Oriole Way." So, what is up with the O's this off-season? What should they do? Bear in mind that no one is interested in a rebuilding program, and no one in these parts is blaming the Nat's presence.

Dave Sheinin: It needs to be said: This Orioles season has to be the most horrific season any baseball team has ever endured, at least in my memory. They have absorbed one sucker-punch after another. I've never seen anything like it. That said, they have brought much of it on themselves: It was ownership's decision to hire two GMs instead of one. It was the front office's decision to hire Lee Mazzilli and to sign Palmeiro and Ponson. The best thing this franchise can do is hire a strong-willed, respected, experienced general manager and let him do his job, without any meddling from ownership.

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Silver Spring, Md.: "A slight boost to the 2006 payroll?"

Doesn't the new owner have to keep faith with the new fanbase, get off to a strong start and distance himself from the penny pinching past of the franchise? You don't see a considerable boost in the 2006 payroll?

Dave Sheinin: In speaking with various ownership sources, with access to team finances, I think the payroll might get a boost of perhaps $10 million, at most, in 2006 -- pushing it from about $50 million to $60 million.

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Columbia, SC: Which do you think is more probable: The Nats winning the Series next year or you actually getting married in November?

Dave Sheinin: Unless my brother gets me into a whole lot of trouble during my bachelor party, I think my chances of actually getting married in November far exceed the chances of the Nationals winning the World Series next year.

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Leonardtown, Md.: Who do you like to win the A.L. East & why?

Dave Sheinin: It's going to be a fascinating weekend in Boston, no doubt. It is possible, or even likely, that the Red Sox and Yankees will be playing three games to decide which one of them makes the playoffs, and which one goes home. And if one of the teams enters Friday's play with a one-game lead, it leaves open the possibility that there could be a one-game playoff on Monday at Yankee Stadium (they won the coin flip) to decide the whole thing. (And oddly enough, the Yankees are expected to activate Bucky Dent as a pinch-hitter if such a thing occurs.) My pick in the East: The Yankees. Why? Because they have three more games against the Orioles. That's why.

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Alexandria, Va.: Is Frank Robinson Manager of the Year? Or will that honor go to Bobby Cox? (What about on the AL side?)

Dave Sheinin: I think it has to be Bobby Cox. This easily qualifies as Cox's most impressive managing job to date -- which is saying something, considering the Braves will have now won 14 straight division titles. Well, perhaps 1991 was better -- when the Braves went from worst to first, and came within a hit of winning the World Series. In the AL, I think my vote would go to Cleveland's Eric Wedge, if the Indians make the playoffs.

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Fairfax, Va.: I agree that Chad Cordero may be the most valuable National, but John Patterson also has to be considered.

Dave Sheinin: Patterson's ERA has Livan Hernandez's beat by more than one run. But Livan has six more wins, and has pitched nearly 50 more innings. And in the big picture of the Nationals' season, those are the more significant numbers, in my opinion.

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Buntsylvania: Dave, interesting article on the strategic consequences of bunting awhile back. What are your thoughts on the three general positions the article explored (i.e., "no-bunt," "moderate no-bunt," and "bunt with gut")?

washingtonpost.com: Too Much of a Sacrifice? (Post, Aug. 28)

Dave Sheinin: Hey, Buntsylvania... Is Frank Robinson your mayor? Seriously, I tend to occupy the same middle ground as Bill James, who said (in my article) that there is not enough mathematical evidence to endorse a total ban on the sacrifice bunt. As with the Nationals' unique set of circumstances (lack of power, too many double-play threats), it makes sense to me that they should use the bunt more than other teams. However, I don't like seeing teams bunt with anyone other than the pitcher at the plate.

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Palestine, Tex.: Your opinion on the Union's stance on steroid penalty (20 games)? Negotiating start?

Dave Sheinin: I think that's exactly what it is. I suspect the finished product will have a first-offense suspension that is somewhere between Selig's 50 games and Fehr's 20 games. Tomorrow's Congressional hearing should be interesting.

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Washington, D.C.: What do you think of Frank Robinson as a manager this year (and the prospects for him coming back)? He certainly deserves credit for skillful handling of his starters and keeping the team motivated and hungry, but his handling of the bullpen the last month seems inexplicbale (almost Grady Little-like). That meltdown in San Diego (followed by the Giants disaster) really killed the team and seems enitrely his fault.

Dave Sheinin: I found it much easier to defend Robinson as a manager before the bullpen debacle in San Diego, which, to me, seemed indefensible. I think he is a capable manager and an asset to the game of baseball, but I worry about his ability to relate to the ballplayers of today. His strict disciplinarian routine makes for interesting coverage, but these days it tends to alienate players. (Look at the disaster that is taking place on the Florida Marlins, with Manager Jack McKeon.) Will he be back? That's up to the new owners. But this weak finish, not to mention the meltdown in San Diego, has made it a lot easier for someone to cut him loose.

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Old Fatnarsh, Penn.: I think the Indians turned things around when they signed Willie Mays Hayes to an extension. Rickie Vaughn sure can throw the heat too.

Dave Sheinin: Yeah, but Pedro Cerrano is the one who has carried them all year long.

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Guzman: What has happened to Guzman? All the sudden, he is hitting! I wish he could have done this all season.

Dave Sheinin: I think Guzman got wind of all the Mario Mendoza stories we were working on, and decided he'd better start hitting.

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Waynesboro, Va.: First of all, let's note that for the first time since 1954, a Washington MLB team will have more wins than its Baltimore counterpart. Take that, Cuban Pete!

Second, it's hard for me to understand the contempt given the White Sox of late. This is a franchise that hasn't won it all since 1917, and has but one AL pennant in 85 years. Now that's suffering. If this collapse had happened to the Cubs, or to the Red Sox before last year, they'd get all sorts of sympathy.

I sense much of this comes from people who want to see another NY-Boston ALCS and don't want one of those pesky Central teams taking the wildcard, even though many of us are frankly tired of both the Yankees and Red Sox and wish neither could make the playoffs.

Dave Sheinin: Nice point about 1954.

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Nats Fan Stranded in Baltimore: Dave,

Any idea why Jose Guillen was sent out to exchange lineup cards with the Mets coach and umpires on Sunday? I didn't know if it was some sort of a joke after his one-game suspension came down, or if it was just something he wanted to do that Frank let him take part in.

Can't wait for the interleague to begin next year! O's can't fill half of Camden Yards with their own fans... the Nats need to invade just like the Sox and Yankee fans.

Dave Sheinin: Managers often let one of their favorite players take out the lineup card once the team has either clinched its playoff spot, or been eliminated from contention. I know Joe Torre always does it with one of his veterans. (But maybe not this year -- it's likely the Yankees will be playing meaningful games through the very end.)

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Alexandria, Va.: Do you see Zimmerman as a starter next season, and at Third or Short? Also, do you expect to see Church & Byrd in more prominent roles?

Dave Sheinin: I think it would be pretty hard to envision a scenario where Zimmerman starts at shortstop next season, given the team's commitment to Guzman for three more years at more than $12 million. Third base makes more sense, with Castilla (who is signed for one more year) as a corner-infield/bench/platoon type of guy.

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Arlington, Va.: How do you weigh in on the debate over whether David Ortiz shouldn't win the AL MVP race because he is a DH? Its not just that he has incredible #s, but also when he hits his homers. A-Rod is surrounded by stars and the Yankees could survive without him. Basically, all Big Papi has to protect him is Manny Ramirez.

Dave Sheinin: Ah, I was hoping someone would ask this. I have no built-in bias against a DH winning the MVP award. However, for that to happen, I think the DH candidate has to produce numbers far beyond those of the candidates who plays a position. And that is simply not the case this season. Alex Rodriguez's numbers are very close to Ortiz's -- and he also plays 50 percent more of the game, because he plays in the field. On top of that, Rodriguez has become a very good third baseman. Yes, Ortiz has collected an amazing number of huge hits and walk-off homers. But Rodriguez has, too. So, as much as I admire Ortiz's season, he is not so far ahead of Rodriguez that I can overlook his lack of participation on defense.

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Silver Spring, Md.: As comfortable as the Red Sox and the Yankees appear at Camden Yards, why not have hem play a series there or at least a playoff game? A nuetral field it would be like a football bowl game. Fans of both teams travel well.

Dave Sheinin: Excellent suggestion.

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Dave Sheinin: Ok. That's all for this week. Thanks again for all the great questions and comments. Sorry I couldn't get to them all. By the way, up in Boston, it's 2-0 Red Sox in the bottom of the fourth. See you next time.

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