John Perrotto takes a break from life on the beat to take your questions about baseball, basketball, or life in the orbit of the Steel(ers) City.
John Perrotto: Hi. Everyone. Pitchers and catchers are less than 48 hours from reporting, so let's talk some baseball.
Rob (Alaska): As someone who took Alvarez over Smoak in my minor league draft last year, what's the latest on Phat Pedro? Am I doomed to the misery that seems to haunt all Pirates fans?
John Perrotto: I have not seen Alvarez since the last day of instructional league and scouts who saw him both there and at Vanderbilt say he was about 30 pounds heavier than the last game of the college season. I'm looking forward to seeing him when camp begins. I still have faith that the irates did the right think in taking Alvarez.
john (ct): This year seems to not have any can't miss teams, the Yankees might be considred so but afterall they are in the very competitive AL East.
What teams in the AL and NL do you think will surprise in a big way?
John Perrotto: Let's say the Blue Jays in the AL and Braves in the NL.
jlarsen (chicago, il ): What was the point of the Morgan Ensberg signing by the rays, especially if Wily Aybar is about to get an extension? Also, who do you think the Rays will cut bait with to make room for Shouse?
John Perrotto: Bringing Ensberg in on a minor-league deal is perfectly reasonable. If they don't have a spot, let him go or trade him. I would think Bradford's surgery opens the spot for Shouse.
birkem3 (Dayton, OH): Hi John, why aren't the Mets showing any interest in signing Orlando Hudson? Luis Castillo's basically a sunk cost, so what's the hold up?
John Perrotto: I think the Mets are in more financial trouble than they are letting on because of the Madoff mess and would only take Hudson if he would sign for something in the 2-3M range for one year.
raygu1 (burlington, nj): John-thanks for the chat. When do you see A. McCutchen in Pitt? when does the power come?
John Perrotto: I'd say he's up at the All-Star break and I wouldn't completely surprised to see Nate McLouth dealt if the arbitration hearing gets contentious. They would be selling high on McLouth if they trade him this year.
birkem3 (Dayton, OH): PECOTA isn't really giving anyone in the NL Central a chance to beat the Cubs (projected to win by 10 games). How likely are the Cubs to win the division?
John Perrotto: I like them every bit as much as PECOTA. I don't see anyone in the division nearly in their class.
mwball75 (ohio): How long till I get to feast my eyes on the majestic power of Matt LaPorta?
John Perrotto: No later than September and maybe the All-Star break.
Stephanie (DC): What roles do you see Rays' pitchers Price, Hammel, and Niemann having on opening day and at the trade deadline?
John Perrotto: Price in rotation, Hammel in long relief, Niemann at Durham to start the season. Don't see any reason that will change unless the Rays unexpectedly are out of the race in July.
Terry (chicago): Who do you like in the h.o.r.s.e. competition this weekend?
John Perrotto: OJ Mayo
Adam (Milwaukee): How can the Bucks not do everything possible to trade RJ for an expiring contract and focus on next season? Is a shot at the 8th seed (and then getting swept out of the playoffs) really worth shooting themselves in the foot for the future (again)?
John Perrotto: I'd trade him to the Cavs.
Gray (Chicago) (Chicago): John, was signing Randy Wolf the right call over aving that money and giving James McDonald a real shot at a rotation spot?
John Perrotto: If the Dodgers were serious about repeating, they needed one more reliable pitcher in that rotation. I liked it at 5M for one year.
Rob (Brighton): Hi John, do you think any of the pitchers out of the group of Kartsens, Ohlendorf, and McCutchen will be a factor for the Pirates rotation this year? Do you see any upside there, or is this just a bunch of guys?
John Perrotto: I think Ohlendorf is going to have a really good year and I like McCutchen a little better than Karstens because of his stuff. One thing that did strike me last September, though, was how highly Joe Torre regarded Karstens' pitchability. That has to be worth something.
Joe Lefko (NJ): Care to elaborate on the Jays surprising in the AL? From where I'm sitting, they're significantly worse than last year and will be competing against the Orioles' new and improved lineup/defense for last place...
John Perrotto: Pitching, defense, breakout from Lind, finally a monster year from Rios.
Jason (NY): Isn't Niemann out of options?
John Perrotto: I'm under the understanding he has one left.
Eli (Brooklyn): Do you think the Yankees will end up dealing one of their OFs (hopefully Nady)? Any chance they upgrade on the Gardner/Melky and Jose Molina disasters-to-be??
John Perrotto: Nady is the guy they want to move but it seems more teams like Swisher. The sense I get is they could get something for Swisher.
Joe (Brooklyn): John, how do you think the Yankees' CF situation will shake out this year?
John Perrotto: I think they'll start off with Swisher, realize he's stretched in center and trade for someone at the July 31 deadline.
Andrew (Fayetteville, NC): Thanks for the chat John! I was mulling something over in my head. I wonder if the Angels ever really meant to keep Teixeira. They must have known that a 8/160 deal would not have been enough. I am thinking either the Angels were not prepared to really spend that much money on him, or they knew that he wanted to become a Yankee and threw that number out to bid the price up. Teixeira has already said that his hero when he was growing up was Mattingly, so it might not have been a real secret that he prefers NYY. Also, an offer that looks semi-serious like the one they put out there might have only been done to try and show fans that still wanted him. I don't know. Am I thinking too much into this?
John Perrotto: You might be on to something but I will say this, no one in baseball saw the Yankees coming on Teixeira until it leaked out that the sides had come to terms. Thus, I'm a little leery of any conspiracy theory.
Mike (Chicago): Where is Adam Dunn going to land? As a cub fan I look forward to him DHing somewhere and not damaging any more real estate on Sheffield. Any chance the Reds bring him back?
John Perrotto: Frankly, I think he makes a lot of sense back in Cincy, though that isn't going to happen. I'd say Washington on a one-year, low-money contract with the chance to go back on the market next winter.
jlarsen (chicago, il): It was almost a given thàt David Price's drafting basically showed Edwin Jackson the door, do you think Wade Davis' impending bus ride to St. Pete makes the 2009 season an audition for teams looking to trade for Andrew Sonnanstine?
John Perrotto: Absolutely.
Rob (Brighton): True or false: if Craig Hanson can put together two good months before the deadline, he'll get traded so fast his head will spin.
John Perrotto: I wouldn't bet more than a nickel that he'll have two good months before the deadline.
Brandon (Charleston): What kind of numbers could a Chris Dickerson/Jonny Gomes platoon put up?
John Perrotto: Not good.
paulbellows (Calgary): If you were the Cubs would yoyu bother trading for Peavy right now? The division looks wrapped up already and once in the playoffs it is a crapshoot anyways.
John Perrotto: No, but the Braves should jump back into the Peavy fray.
Richie (KC): In my long term keeper league I have 2 spots left to fill with Kershaw, Liriano, or Cliff Lee, whatever shall I do?
John Perrotto: Kershaw and Liriano. Lee was great last year but I'm not convinced it was anything more than a one-year outlier.
Joe Lefko (NJ): Will the AL West and Central really only combine to produce 2 winning teams (and 0 85+ teams)? Or do the depth charts need some more updates before taken too seriously?
John Perrotto: It's a little tougher to make projection at this time this year than normal because there are still so many unsigned free agents. I wouldn't take the projections as the absolute gospel just yet, though I don't see either the West or Central as a real powerhouse division.
Chad (Tampa): Niemann is out of options. Do you think he makes it through waivers on his way to Durham?
John Perrotto: Well, then I see him in a relief role, too. I can't imagine he'd make it through waivers and I don't see where he fits in that rotation.
birkem3 (Dayton, OH): If the Reds bring in a new left fielder, how does Dickerson rate in CF? Could a Dickerson/Taveras platoon work?
John Perrotto: I'm not sold on either guy. If I were Walt Jocketty, and I'm not, I would play Jay Bruce in center and find two corner guys who can hit. There were a lot of those guys out there this winter and I think the Reds whiffed on a chance to become the one legitimate challenger to the Cubs in the NL Central.
Spezzaz0r (NY): You already answered my Dmccutch Q, good amount of yankee questions.
I'll switch it up; better career: Trevor Cahill or Brett Anderson?
John Perrotto: Cahill. I like guys with firmer fastballs, though I must I was impressed with Anderson's outlook on pitching when I had a chance to chat with him at the Futures Game last year.
Chad (Thousand Oaks): Are you concerned about the Angels' pen? Can we really count on a guys like Jepsen to hold down a spot?
John Perrotto: I haven't seen much of Jepsen but I don't think he will need to be used in crucial situations right away. I know scouts love his arm. Couple that with Scioscia being able to judiciously use him and I think he can be a plus.
Brandon (Charleston): How many runs do you see the current Reds offense scoring?
John Perrotto: Middle of the pack in the NL and that's because they play in GABP.
Todd (Hoboken): John,
Have you seen the strange Roberto Alomar HIV lawsuit (in today's NY Daily News)? Likely untrue, but would go a long way towards explaining why he feel of the face of the earth with the Mets.
John Perrotto: The whole thing is really weird and I really don't know what to say about it. Just weird.
NealH (The PBC): does Andy = Andy (ie LaRoche = Marte), or can I breathe easy knowing LaRoche's minor league numbers will translate rather well to the majors this year?
John Perrotto: I don't think you can give up on Andy LaRoche just yet. He was playing one-handed last season and clearly pressed during his two months with the Pirates. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. The scouting reports and numbers have just been too good to think this guy is a bust.
Frank (Vegas): I am still lamenting the Bucs not trading JWilson for Hu+Delwyn. Did they ask for too much by requesting a "3rd propsect", or were they scared off by Hu's vision problems. I think the initial deal would have saved them money for a late FA signing, and Young would give them the Rt-handed OF bat they need.
John Perrotto: I wasn't overly excited about the deal, other than be able to ask "Who's on first" ever time Hu singled or walked. Who's on first? Hu.
birkem3 (Dayton, OH): If you take a look at old playoff odds reports, the division winners are always projected for more wins than the top team in the division. Most simulations will have one of the teams winning 85+ games, but on average, everyone falls below the line. At least that's my interpretation. Is yours any different?
John Perrotto: As a guy who barely passed algebra, I'm the wrong guy to ask.
Jason (NY): Where do you see Pelfrey ending up - front-line 1 or 2 starter, or back-end innings eater (or worse)? Better career: Pelfrey or Maine?
John Perrotto: A No. 2 guy. I really like him. Don't see him as a big-time ace but right at the next level.
franly24 (n.j): do you think david ortiz will have a monter season
John Perrotto: No. I think he's in the decline phase and the wrist is going to be a problem again.
marco (Virginia Beach): How about Tampa's Wade Davis, where does he end up...as the closer?
John Perrotto: I could see Davis closing. I'll say this, the Rays have a really good problem with all the pitching to go with all the hitters they've developed in the last few years.
Spezzaz0r (NY): What are your thoughts of Daniel McCutchen cracking the buc's rotation?
And for fun, Which of Brackman, Bleich, Heredia, Betances, De La Rosa break out of the Tampa Yankees' rotation first?
John Perrotto: If McCutchen pitches well this spring, he'll almost certainly be in the rotation. As far as the Yankees, I'll go with Betances.
ericturner29 (Chicago): Should the Tribe try to reach deep for Dunn or Abreu and put a hammerlock on the Central?
John Perrotto: I think Mark Shapiro has done good work this winter and getting one of those guys really would make the Indians the favorite, though hammerlock may be too strong of a word.
Joe (Brooklyn): Two pitchers that many had pegged for positive growth (if not breakouts) last season, were Ian Snell and Rich Hill. Do you see bounce-backs for either of them in 2009, or is mediocrity all that can be hoped for?
John Perrotto: I think the change of scenery will help Hill. Snell is a hard guy to figure, talented but flighty. He could literally win 18 games this season or wind up in Indianapolis.
Tommy (Draysbay): With the Rays about to sign Aybar to a 2yr deal(3 w/option), do you think this means he will take over the Rays 2B job in 2010? Iwamura has an option worth between 4-5 million based on incentives
John Perrotto: That would make a lot of sense as would possibly sliding Brignac or Bartlett to the other side of the bag. I'm just not a big Iwamura guy. I think he would better served as a bench guy.
Rich (Akron): Speaking of Andy Marte, is there any chance he can become a Willy Aybar type of player, or is he a complete loss at this point?
John Perrotto: Complete loss.
Rob (Alaska): Following up on that Ortiz question, it really seems like the Red Sox are "all in" on healthy seasons from Ortiz, Lowell, Drew, Varitek, et al. If so, why did their free agent signings (Smoltz, Penny, Baldelli) look so much like a MASH unit? Seems like a very precarious dance they're doing.
John Perrotto: Which why I could see the Red Sox winning 95 games or 75 games this season. I have a feeling they are either going to be very good or a total disappointment.
mwashuc06 (Utica,NY): Do you think Carlos Gomez becomes that Alex Rios or Carlos Beltran type of player this year. You talked about Gomez in 2007 on a chat?
John Perrotto: Yeah, I think Gomez is very talented. He's a wild stallion at this point but he'll learn under a guy like Ron Gardenhire and that Twins' coaching staff. Gomez is going to be very very good.
dhlowenstein (San Fernando Valley): Fred Lewis, the Giants' leftfielder, ended his 2008 season early to have a bunyon removed from his foot. Two related questions: 1)Lewis' performance declined in the second half of the season. Is that likely to have been influenced by the bunyon? 2) The latest team report posted on Yahoo suggests Lewis may still be impaired. One would expect full recovery from that type of surgery long before now. Is his condition still impaired and, if so, how seriously and how long is he likely to be affected?
John Perrotto: I'm not a podiatrist or Will Carroll but I did hear Fred Lewis on XM this winter say that he was in a lot of pain in the second half of last season. Assuming his healthy and we can't, I think he's going to be a pretty good player. I really like him.
ericturner29 (Chicago): Complete loss?!?!?
Marte can still make shaving cream pies and put bubblegum on people's hats.
John Perrotto: Well, it just goes to show you that everybody is blessed with some sort of talent.
Clint (Chicago): Do you hear of any tricks Kenny Williams may have up his sleeve before Opening Day, or is this our White Sox team?
John Perrotto: He says he's done but I don't think he ever is. I know they like Getz but I could see Orlando Hudson landing here on a small contract.
Tommy (Draysbay): Does a team need a designated closer? For example a team like the Rays have 3-4 above average RP's but outside of Percival, who is recovering from surgery, they have no closer. Do you see this as a problem?
John Perrotto: No, because Maddon knows how to run a bullpen and they have so many talented arms that a closer will either shake out or they piece it together.
Frank (Vegas): will the low $$ FA signings significantly affect GM's next year when they consider who to offer arbitration? I can for example see NHuntington/PBC concerned, with 3/4 of his infield up for arb, that it is no longer automatic to offer players arb knowing they will decline and he would get 3 1st round picks - not so sure that scenario is automatic next year
John Perrotto: I think agents will think twice before turning down arbitration. A lot of guys really hurt themselves but not taking arbitration. Hello Jason Varitek.
Dave (Oakland): Better player for the next 5 years, travis Buck or Ryan Sweeney?
John Perrotto: Ryan Sweeney, though I don't see either one being much more than a slightly above average player.
ScotMartin (TX): Ignoring arbitration clock discussions, do you think letting Elvis Andrus start for all of 2009 before he is ready will make him a better player in 2010? Or is it better to let a young player like him get in more time at AAA with a late season call up?
John Perrotto: I think the Rangers know that they won't be competitive until 2010, so why not give Andrus a head start? I like the idea and they've got Vizquel to mentor him. Omar really can't play anymore but he knows how to play shortstop.
Brian Sabean (San Francisco, CA): What should I offer ManRam so that we do become the favorites in the NL West?
John Perrotto: That's for you to figure out. You're the GM.
Rob (Brighton): Fair point on Hanson. I feel bad, like Boston broke that kid. Regarding Andrew's question about the Angels, I think they were also thinking about the upcoming draft when they lost Tex. They now possess either 5 or 6 picks in the first round. This is the kind of draft that could really make a franchise. Thoughts?
John Perrotto: I think at some point that every organization needs to restock its cupboard. The Angels are in that position but also in position that they can still win their division without Teixeira.
Jason (NY): I think the Ryan Howard deal was a bit of a loser for the Phillies, but at least--for them--they didn't go too overboard. What kind of numbers do you see Ryan Howard putting up in 3 years? 5 years?
John Perrotto: I think the Phillies played this perfectly. Howard is going to go off the cliff quickly but not for at least three years. He'll continue to be a productive hitter through 2011 and then the Phillies can cut bait without taking the PR hit from their fans.
ChuckR (Addison, IL): Should the Indians count on anything from Anthony Reyes this season? Maybe 'count on' is bad wording - 'be optimistic about' at least?
John Perrotto: I think so. He's a talented pitcher who just needed a change of scenery. I thought the Indians made a great trade in getting him for next to nothing.
Tommy (Draysbay): I see you mentioned the Ensberg signing above. It's another Andrew Friedman low-risk/high reward potential signing. Did anybody see Carlos Pena coming, Eric Hinske? Ty Wiggington? If it works out great, if not they still need somebody to play 3B in Durham.
John Perrotto: Agreed.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Was adding Pettitte worth stunting Hughe's growth? Thanks!
John Perrotto: In any other organization, no. But it's the Yankees and the pressure is there to win every year.
paulbellows (Calgary): What is your first take on the projected standings? Arizone and Washingoton a little high maybe?
John Perrotto: Diamondbacks, no; Nationals, yet. However, the Washington Post just reported that Adam Dunn has agreed to terms with the Nats, so he should help the cause.
jlarsen (chicago, il): How do you see the Rays bullpen on opening day? Percy and Bradford put 7.5 MIL on the DL, do you believe that Lance Cormier or Derek Rodriguez will actually make the Rays 25 man roster?
John Perrotto: I think they have options and you certain could do worse than having guys like Niemann, Hammel, Cormier and Rodriguez pitching long and middle relief.
Tim (DC): John,I actually think the Rangers, with a cheap signing here or there, could be competitive in the ALWest. If they had signed Abreau to that 1-year deal, or someone similar...the worse that would happen would be to deal him a the deadline. 85 wins is within reach of 3 of the 4 teams, Sea being the lone holdout.
John Perrotto: I just think the Rangers and Mariners have decided to punt '09 but both will be much improved in '10.
dianagramr (NYC): Hi John ... thanks for the chat ...
Give me over/under guesses:
John Perrotto: Not sure what you're driving at here but I have a bad feeling Posada is at the end of the line.
ericturner29 (Chicago): The Cavs need to trade the contracts of WallyWorld & Snow, right? Wouldn't it be an awful waste of assets not to?
John Perrotto: The Cavs should do everything possible to try to win the title. LeBron might not be there for 20 years, so they need to go for it every year they have him.
birkem3 (Dayton, OH): Is Homer Bailey going to accomplish much as a Red, or like Goldstein said, will he find his success in another organization?
John Perrotto: Much like Gavin Floyd, he needs to move along to another organization. If I were a GM of a lower-tier team like the Pirates, I'd trade for the kid and take my shot on getting a high payoff.
Quentin (West Dundee): Nobody will answer this question, so hopefully you will: What makes the Yankees a 100 win team when they are so bad up the middle? Jeter is their only asset, yet he can't field his position. I don't see how they can be the best team in baseball.
John Perrotto: Because they are awfully good in the corners.
Rob (Brighton): Switching back to the BoSox and Rob (Alaska)'s question. If the worst case scenario happens, can you see Theo punting on 09? We could have a lot to offer up at the deadline if it looks like the heart of the lineup is cumbling.
John Perrotto: I think if they are under .500 at the deadline then yeah, I could see the Red Sox retrench a little bit. I don't think they're scared to take the hit and have a bad season if it will help them down the line.
AJ (Pasadena): Who's the Cardinals' second baseman? I think Brendan Ryan deserves a shot and could surprise.
John Perrotto: I'd say Ryan is the favorite but I like Jarrett Hoffpauir and I think Orlando Hudson would be a nice fit here.
jlarsen (Chicago, IL): With the Rays starting to lock up their younger players, while making interesting transaction to accompany them, why must they continue to be overlooked and believed to be a 3rd place team? Boston has pitching depth in the majors, but Penny/Smoltz/Wakefield aren't spring chickens and Buchholz doesn't seem to be ready just yet. Need I say anything about the Yankees? 2000! Clap clap clap clap clap
John Perrotto: I don't necessarily agree with PECOTA on the Rays being the third-place team in the AL East. I'd say Yankees, Rays, Red Sox at this point.
jlarsen (chicago, il): Should the Rays start taking calls for Crawford and Kazmir or is Scotty no longer afraid of throwing his "milk carton" slider?
John Perrotto: No because they've got a chance to win it all this season and need those guys in '09.
Breakables (Chicago): Now that his arbitration hearing is approaching, how do you feel the Pirates have handled contract talks with McLouth? Do you expect a settlement? A long-term deal?
John Perrotto: I think the Pirates will only agree to a long-term contract with McLouth on their terms because of the presence of Andrew McCutchen in the organization. As I mentioned earlier, they just might be willing to sell high on McLouth in July if McCutcheon has a good second year at Indianapolis.
John Perrotto: Well, that'll wrap it up. Thanks so much for all the great questions. Let's do it again soon.