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Major League Baseball

Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 19, 2008 11:00 AM

Washington Post national baseball writer Dave Sheinin was online Thursday, June 19 at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions and comments from around the major leagues.

The transcript follows.

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Dave Sheinin: Hey everyone. Welcome to another baseball chat. Quite a week already, with the axe falling on Willie Randolph in Queens and Bill Bavasi in Seattle (apparently the Mariners' ownership could put up with a lot of indignities, but getting swept at home by the Nationals is not among them). We can talk about those topics, the state of the local nines -- or even Bill Werber, the oldest living ex-major leaguer, who turns 100 tomorrow and whom I profiled in Tuesday's paper.

Let's get to it...

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Florida: Your story on Bill Werber was one of the best, most entertaining pieces of journalism I've read in a long time. Happy 100th birthday (tomorrow), Bill!

washingtonpost.com: Ex-Big Leaguer Werber Has Many Stories to Choose From (Post, June 17)

Dave Sheinin: Thanks much... I'm publishing this comment not because of your effusive praise (OK, well, maybe a little bit), but because Paul, our fine producer, has included a nice little link to it...

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Sidney Ponson?: We've been hearing how stocked the Yankees' system is, but they now have to resort to this fat toad? Aftet Texas, of all places, cuts him? What's the over-under on his next release date?

Dave Sheinin: I wouldn't say the Yankees' system is "stocked" -- it's better than awful ones (like the Mets'), but not as good as the top ones (like Boston's or Tampa Bay's). In any case, I see Ponson as nothing more than a stopgap there -- they'll have in the majors within a week or so, then see how much they can get out of him. In the meantime, they'll be biding their time to see if this recent turnaround (six-game winning streak) will continue and make it feasbile for them to go after a big-name starting pitcher, such as C.C. Sabathia (unlikely), A.J. Burnett or Rich Harden.

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Fairfax: Rich Harden and Joe Blanton are pitching for which teams on August 1?

Dave Sheinin: Great question. And to be honest, my best guess is that they're both still pitching for Oakland on Aug. 1. It has become extremely difficult to pull of blockbuster trade-deadline deals in recent years -- because teams simply are not willing to give up multiple top prospects (like, say, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Cliff Lee) for two-month rentals (like, say, Bartolo Colon).

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Washington, DC: As a Mets fan, I have to move beyond the embarrassing Randolph issue and ask - at what point do the Mets give up on the season? I'm not normally a doom-and-gloom fan, but this does not look like a playoff team even with everyone fully healthy. I don't want to see another Zambrano-type acquisition at the trading deadline, only to see the team fall short of the wild playoffs. Actually, I'd rather see them promote a guy like Mike Carp from Binghamton (.351 avg) and platoon him with Delgado to see if the organization has a good young first baseman for 2009.

Dave Sheinin: Give up on the season? You kidding me? Let's take a look at the situation: At 35-36, the Mets are 5 1/2 games back in their division and six games back in the wild card. Three teams are ahead of them in the former, and four teams (not counting current division leaders) in the latter. You mean to tell me that's too steep a hill to climb? I understand your sentiment -- the Mets are a flawed, aging team. But so are the four teams ahead of them in the wild card (Florida, Philly, St. Louis, Milwaukee). The whole point of firing Randolph was to light a fire under the team at a time when the season is still very much salvageable.

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Chantilly, Va.: Dave: Should Red Sox fans be at all worried about the Yankees?

Dave Sheinin: Absolutely -- particularly because the teams play each other 13 more times. I think Boston is clearly a better team, top to bottom, but I've also said all along the Yankees would be heard from before this thing is over.

And of course, it needs to be pointed out: The Red Sox ought to be far more worried (and probably are) about the Rays.

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Columbia, MD: This does not have to be part of the chat, (but it can be) but I wanted to tell you that I sent your Dustin Pedroia When It Clicked interview that was in MLB Sunday a couple of weeks ago to my 8 year old great-nephew. (He lives out of state) Dustin is his favorite player now due to a large part to Dustin's size. My nephew has wanted to be a major league baseball player since he was 2 and he is not destined to be a very big guy. He has always been the smallest kid on all of his teams but he really is a natural.So Dustin gives him inspiration the he can make it. I knew that the interview would mean a lot to him. He said he is going to keep it to read it over and over for inspiration. He is playing right now in a 7-8 year old Little League All-Star tournament. His team has won all 4 games so far. I hope to be spending my retirement years following him around the country watching him play. Hey, dreams do come true. Thanks for the interview and thanks for all the great work you do on MLB Sunday.

Dave Sheinin: Thanks for the nice note, Columbia. When I cooked up "When It Clicked" as a regular feature of our MLB Sunday page, I envisioned it as being a kid-friendly service, in which young ballplayers can learn a little bit about the hows and whys that turned some of these MLB stars into the players they are today. Good luck to your great-nephew.

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Columbia, MD: Hey, Dave! It's Henry here (whose mom lives in the same retirement community as Bill Werber)...Thanks so much for great story!

Dave Sheinin: Excellent! Very cool. Thanks for the note.

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D.C.: Is there any further word on what exactly Ponson did to get dumped from Texas? It must've been pretty bad if the perenially pitching-starved Rangers couldn't put up with him.

Dave Sheinin: Apparently, there were a few things -- an incident at a hotel bar, a run-in with manager Ron Washington over being pulled out of a game after four innings and another run-in with Washington when his subsequent start was pushed back a few days.

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DC: Should the Braves start exploring their options when it comes to moving Mark Texiera this summer?

Dave Sheinin: Yes, they should. And believe me, they already are. There is virtually zero chance of getting Teixeira to forego free agency and sign a long-term extension during this season, so the Braves are fully prepared to deal him.

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A.U. Park: Dave -

Many in Nats Nation are already fretting that Mike Rizzo might get the M's GM gig. While I'm not so sure that is a bad thing, what are you hearing about their "list." I would think that Jed Hoyer (Boston), Peter Woodfork (AZ), Chris Antonetti (Cleveland), David Forst (Oak), and maybe even Paul DePodesta (SD, former LAD GM) would be on the list ahead of Rizzo.

Thanks, and the Sunday column is fantastic.

Dave Sheinin: I have not heard Rizzo's name mentioned in Seattle -- only here in the District. I would have to put Antonetti at the top of that list. He is seen in the industry as the next great, young GM candidate -- the only question is whether he's ready to leave Cleveland yet.

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Washington, D.C.: Is Mike Mussina for real? 10-4 in mid-June isn't shabby for anybody, let alone a 39-year old. Will this finally be the year he captures that elusive win number (2 times 10)?

Dave Sheinin: Great question. Mussina has had a fabulous career, but it's a career of "almosts" (which he readily acknowledges). He ALMOST won 20 games in both 1995 and 1996 (in the latter season, he had his 20th win all but wrapped up until Armando Benitez blew the save). He ALMOST threw a perfect game agains the Red Sox (until Carl Everrett broke it up with two outs and two strikes in the ninth). He finished in the top five in Cy Young voting six times. He's never won a World Series ring. Lots of almosts. And it's also possible he will ALMOST make it to the Hall of Fame.

So maybe this is the year karma finally pays him back. Although he's 10-4, his ERA is just a shade below 4. After all those disappointments in his career, it would be fitting if he got a little lucky and won 20 games at age 39.

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"... Dustin Pedroia When It Clicked interview that was in MLB Sunday ...": Can we have a link, please?

washingtonpost.com: Here you go: When It Clicked: Dustin Pedroia (washingtonpost.com)

Dave Sheinin: Thanks to Paul, our excellent producer, for the link.\

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Silver Spring, Md.: How good are the Phillies? I really like their line-up, but question whether their pitching can hold up. But right now they look like the class of the National League. Was their series with the Red Sox a World Series preview?

Dave Sheinin: Well, you nailed it. The Phillies look great right now, but I can't see their starting pitching holding up. It's still Cole Hamels and a bunch of question marks. I mean, God bless Jamie Moyer -- he's 45 years old and sporting a 7-4 record and 4.09 ERA. But can he keep that up? And meantime, Brett Myers is a liability these days, and Adam Eaton and Kyle Kendrick are not much better. Maybe they'll just bash their way to the playoffs. But even if they do, how can they get to a World Series if their No. 2 starter is Jamie Moyer?

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Instant Replay and Other Things: Hi Dave,

What's the chance that MLB will implement instant replay for home runs and fair/foul balls before this season is over? How do you see it working? Like pro tennis where each manager would have a couple of challenges? Would it be used for other calls, potentially, such as catches where it is in question whether the ball hit the gound first or if the fielder had control long enough? Maybe steals (wouldn't that be a big step for MLB?)?

Finally, I am in favor of MLB banning managers from being able to run out onto the field to argue/protest a call. Very unproductive.

Dave Sheinin: MLB is going to look into the feasibility of fast-tracking instant replay so that it can be implemented by the end of this season -- but I still wouldn't be surprised if they decided to wait until 2009 and not attempt to implement it in the middle of a season. But when and if it comes, it will be limited to "boundary" calls -- fair/foul, home run/not home run.

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Bleeding in 212: On April 26, Tom Boswell wrote: "The hitting slump that's defined the team's spring and put Washington at the bottom of most offensive categories will soon pass. Write it down: The Nats will be near the middle of the National League in runs this season. Reverting to past performance, plus playing in a smaller park, will see to that." Why hasn't it happened? And what's wrong with Willy Mo?

Dave Sheinin: Start with the fact their two best hitters (at least in my opinion) -- Nick Johnson and Ryan Zimmerman -- have been out for extended periods of time. As for Pena, I wish I had an answer. So do the Nationals. He simply cannot be this bad -- with an OPS that is roughly 250 points his career mark.

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Washington, D.C.: I have to ask...by any chance are you watching the College World Series? I love college baseball and I wish it got more coverage in the press, including The Post!

Dave Sheinin: Can't say I'm paying much attention to the CWS. To be perfectly honest, once the season ends for my beloved Vanderbilt Commodores (as it did in the NCAA Regionals this year), my taste for college baseball pretty much evaporates.

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Baltimore: Hey, Dave, still think Washington will end up with a better record than Baltimore at season's end?

Dave Sheinin: I was wondering when someone was going to hold me accountable for this prediction. Right now, the O's have an 8 1/2-game advantage, so I'd have to say it's unlikely the Nats can catch them. But I do think they'll get close. I'm man enough to admit my mistakes when it comes to predictions -- I also picked the Mariners to win the AL West this year, and Justin Verlander to win the AL Cy Young.

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Judiciary Sq.: The long-slumbering Tigers are finally awakening. With all of their hitting, do you think they have a chance, or is their pitching too weak?

Dave Sheinin: I think the Tigers definitely have a chance to win their division. Verlander is going to pitch better. Armando Galarraga (former Nats farmhand) has been a godsend. And I can't wait to see what happens when they get Joel Zumaya back in their bullpen.

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Alexandria, Va.: I've never much cared for the Yankees, but had no feelings one way or the other for the Mets until their firing of Willie Randolph which, both in form and substance, would have made the Steinbrenners proud. Is it something in NYC water? Or do those zillions of dollars make people do funny things?

Dave Sheinin: Wow. The Randolph thing was the most bungled baseball firing I've ever seen -- narrowly edging out the 1999 firing of Frank Wren by the Baltimore Orioles, who managed to throw Cal Ripken under the bus in the process by pinning the Wren firing on the fact he once ordered the team plane to leave without Ripken. Flying Randolph and his doomed coaches 3,000 miles to Anaheim, only to turn around and can them the next day -- in a 3:14 a.m. (EDT) press release? Wow. That's terrible.

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Boonsboro, MD: Any chance the Nats will be dealing as the trade deadline approaches? They have some nice pitchers that could bring prospects/players. They need help at every position, and Jason Bergman would look good as a Phillie.

Dave Sheinin: Oh, you can be certain the Nats will be exploring trades all over the place this winter -- although it doesn't mean they'll pull something off. Despite their record, they have all sorts of marketable pieces, beginning with Cristian Guzman and Jon Rauch.

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Most Amazing Play: Okay Dave, you've obviously seen a few games live in your time. What's the single most amazing baseball play you've witnessed live?

Dave Sheinin: Wow, I don't have enough time to really mull this one over, but off the top of my head... The best defensive play was probably Torii Hunter's catch to rob Barry Bonds of a homer in an All-Star Game (maybe 2000?). And the most memorable single moment was probably Aaron Boone's homer in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. But I reserve the right to revise those choices after I've had some time to think about it.

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Minneapolis:72 games into the season, the Cubs have not sustained a 3 game losing streak (though that could change tonight). I heard they're the only team that can say that, and my research found the team has never gone this far into the season without a 3 game skid. (At least as far back as 1902 when they became the Cubs.)

Do you, by chance, know the record of how long into a season a team has gone without a 3 game skid, or if any team has gone all season without one? Or do you know where I could find out without doing a team by team, season by season analysis? (ick) I did look at the 2002(?) Mariners who won 116 games, and they lost 3 in a row very late in the season (a sweep in fact).

I'm just compiling my list of reasons this is "The Year" so that my end-of-season depression after it turns out not to be "The Year" will have some merit. I can show the list to people and say, "Here look! You'd be depressed too!" Thanks so much...

Dave Sheinin: I don't have time to mess around with this right now, but if you go to Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index (http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/) and play around with "Team Pitching Streak Finder" (it's one of the choices on the left-hand side of the page), you may be able to get your answer. The only other way I know is to call the Elias Sports Bureau.

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Hal " Baby Boss" Steinbrenner: Why won't anyone from the stupid, butt-backward National League answer my question about getting into the 21st Century?!? Their insane "tradition" hurt my best guy! Pitchers should pitch. Period. Right?

Dave Sheinin: I can detect the sarcasm. It was a dumb move to blame Wang's injury on the NL's unwillingness to adopt the DH. But it did serve to illuminate why it is still a problem for the two leagues to be operating under different rules.

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Dave Sheinin: OK, everyone. I'm out of time. Sorry I couldn't get to every question. But I'll see you again next time.

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