Straight from John Perrotto, the man on the beat, it's a baseball roundtable involving gearing down on the regular season and gearing up for post-season play.
John Perrotto: Hi everyone. Well, we've got game No. 163 later today at the Metrodome then the postseason starts tomorrow. It's an exciting time, so let's talk some ball.
Matt (Chicago ): Do you see the Cubs making a move for a 2B/SS type to play at the top of the order? If so, who do you see as logical targets? It seems to me that there may be several low-cost options on that front.
John Perrotto: I know the Cubs have been impressed enough with Jeff Baker that he may be their second baseman next season, though he's not a leadoff guy. If they do go the free-agent route, Orlando Hudson would make sense for a middle infielder.
Dave (NY): Do I have the schedule right? The Tigers had to use Verlander on the last day and still could (if they win) use him twice on regular rest in the ALDS? On a related note, are you a big fan of the NBA?
John Perrotto: Yes, Verlander can pitch twice in the series on normal rest, which is huge for the Tigers if they make it to the NLDS. I like the NBA. Unfortunately, I live in a market (Pittsburgh)that does not have an NBA team so I don't get to see as many games in person as I'd like.
oira61 (San Francisco): John, what's your prediction for what the Pirates will do, philosophically, with the No. 2 pick in next year's draft? Will they take the top talent and pay the asking price? Or will they do as they did this year?
John Perrotto: Well, I'd like to think they'll take the best player. However, it is supposed to be a very weak draft class, thus I could see them taking a signability guy again like they did with Tony Sanchez this year. That being said, picking Sanchez has turned out pretty well so far.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): I'm not one on the "trade the bum" bandwagon...but there is a groundswell among some Tigers fans that they should trade Cabrera. I think it unlikely, but if they did, what kind of market is there? Would the return be lofty or disappointing? Thanks.
John Perrotto: Well, I think the Tigers need to let some time pass so the emotional can be taken out of the situation. What Cabrera did was beyond stupid regardless of when it happened. That he did in the midst of his team collapsing in a pennant race was monumentally ridiculous. However, everyone is innoncent until proven guilty. There is also no doubt he's a very talented player. I'd say the Tigers keep him becuase they would have take pennies on the dollar to trade him this winter after that weekend incident.
David (Winston Salem): Tigers fan here. Talk me down from the ledge... please?
John Perrotto: I'd love to but I can't do it in good faith. I think it's going to be awfully hard to win in the Metrodome, though I did have a chance to visit with Rick Porcello earlier this year and came away very impressed with the poise and maturity he shows for such a young guy.
cubfan131 (IA): How does it make sense for a smaller market team to commit $8 million to a 42 year old closer. Shouldn't the Brewers spend that money on SP?
John Perrotto: Agreed. However, Hoffman is just one of those guys who can't be killed. He is very very reliable pitching in the ninth inning and that means more to people inside the game, especially managers and GMs, than those outside.
Conjunction (Dallas): Elvis Andrus has been worth 2.9 WAR while anchoring a Ranger defense that completely transformed. How do you put Andrew Bailey (2.4 WAR) ahead of him in the ALROY race?
John Perrotto: The great thing about the rookie classes in both leagues is that you can go a number of different ways with your picks. I like Andrus a lot and I know I certainly left myself open for criticism by not selecting him. However, I thought Bailey was outstanding all year in a role that many veterans have a difficult time handling. It's an interesting debate, which is one of the reasons we all love baseball so much.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): Any further ripples still echoing from the Sano saga in the PIT front office? This seems to reflect worse on the point man in the DR than the bosses stateside.
John Perrotto: They are shrugging it off publicly but it has to hurt the Pirates more than they will admit. They opened a $5-million academy in the Dominican in April and really wanted to make a splash by signing Sano, the top prospect in the DR this year. Rene Guyo, the Pirates' Latin American scouting coordinator is a good man, but I think he upset Sano's family by trying to go around the agent (Rob Plummer) in the recruitment process.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Can we get a take on the management shake up in Toronto please?
John Perrotto: J.P. Ricciardi had become such a lightning rod among Blue Jays' fans that club president Paul Beeston knew he had no choice but to make a change. The fans never warmed to the idea that Ricciardi never moved to Canada. They have a lot of national pride and certainly should embrace Alex Anthopoulus, who is a Canadian, as the new GM. For all heat he took, I do think Ricciardi left the Blue Jays in position where they could start to win soon, despite some of the albatross contacts.
jlarsen (Chicago): While this is just pure unadulterated speculation, I see this offseason as a busy one for the Rays in terms of transactions. I could see them trade Crawford, Bartlett and Pena. They would slash a ton off payroll, which could be used on a few FAs(preferabley "B" types) and locking up a youngster or 2(Upton/Garza). If the Rays received a pretty good overall package for Kazmir, why shouldn't the Rays expect the same from Crawford(who has a very friendly salary and came off a good year) or Bartlett(still has a couple yrs of team control left). Its not like the Rays don't have feesible replacements for them. If they don't think Jennings is ready, Perez could adequately fill in til he was. Brignac and Rodriguez are chomping at the bit for Major League time and have nothing to prove in AAA anymore. "Fans" may not like these moves, but the ones who write about the Rays will understand and like the deals if dealt. Your thoughts?
John Perrotto: This would not surprise me. Stuart Sternberg made it clear after the Kazmir trade that the Rays are always going to have to operate within a budget regardless of their success on the field. Considering they didn't get the bump in attendance they expected after winning a pennant and that they do have such a good farm system that I could very well see Andrew Friedman following the exact course of action you have laid out here. In fact, I would not be surprised at all.
GrinnellSteve (Iowa): Your pick for today? Your 4 picks in this round? I'm going to say Twins then Yanks, Angels, Cardinals, and Rockies.
John Perrotto: I'm going against all logic and laws of momentum today and picking the Tigers. I have a lot of faith in Rick Porcello. As far as my first-round picks, I'll go Yankees, Red Sox, Rockies and Dodgers.
Bill (New Mexico): Stock question: Where does Matt Holliday wind up? If the answer is not "St. Louis," what do the Cardinals do to replace him? That post-trade surge certainly seemed to make a point about the need for somebody like him.
John Perrotto: That's a great question. I know he likes St. Louis but I really question whether the Cardinals will be able to carry both Holliday and Pujols on the same payroll. He makes sense for the Yankees but I'm hearing they are not going to bust the bank for him. It will be very intriguing. I think the Angels will be in the fray, too, and might just get him.
Dave (Ann Arbor): Assuming the Tigers win tonight, I've got tickets to take my dad to his (and my) first playoff game-- is there anything different from a regular season game that we should be sure to see/experience?
John Perrotto: There is palpable buzz in the air that you rarely feel in the regular season. There is more intensity not only on the field but in the crowd. Every pitch really means something and you get the sense everyone is paying more attention than they do from April-September.
Brendan (Chicago): What do you make of Andy laRoche's first full year in the bigs? Where do you see hiim in two years personally, position wise, or organizationally?
John Perrotto: LaRoche finished strong, especially in the power department, which provides some hope for the future. He admittedly spent the first four months of the season focusing solely on making contact rather than driving the ball. I feel he did enough to get another shot at playing regualarly in 2010 and it seems the Pirates are strongly contemplating switching him to second base.
Greg (DC): Hey John....love your work.
How many games do you think the Pirates will win next year?
What year do you see them cracking .500?
I think they could get up over 70 wins next year and I think 2011 is THE year.
John Perrotto: I think 70 wins is actaul a realistic goal and they might do a little better than that. I think .500 is out of the question unless they get a LOT of breakout performances. I'll reserve judgement in 2011, though I think a run at .500 by then could be realistic.
Don (MI): While the cabrera incident has a number of elements that make what he did extra stupid - altercation with wife, going out with the opposing team, blowing a .26 thirteen hours before a potentially division clinching game - it got me wondering how much this stuff goes on over the course of a season but flies under the radar. Is this type of thing a rarity in the game, or is there a kind of boys-being-boys acceptance of a certain amount of this stuff?
John Perrotto: I think there is a lot of fraternization that goes on among players from others teams both before and after games. However, I really think the amount of drug and alcohol abuse is a lot lower than when I first started coveirng baseball in 1988. Things don't get swept under the rug anymore with the 24-hour news cycle, more media and people everywhere with cellphone cameras just waiting to catch a celebrity misstep.
dianagramr (NYC): I think the Nats and Pirates may BOTH have brighter near-term futures than the Mets . . . am I wrong?
John Perrotto: I would agree 100 percent with that. Or as Esteban Loaiza was always fond of saying, 110 percent.
jlarsen (chicago): How much regression, both offensively and defensively, from Ben Zobrist in 2010? Can we see even more of a breakout?
John Perrotto: I think there will be some regression there. I don't think he'll be one of the top five players in the American League, though I think he has certainly established himself a guy who deserves to play every day and will be productive over 600 plate appearances.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Are there any other positives to Alex Anthopoulos than he's Canadian? Sure, Canadians tend to be jingoistically patriotic (I'm one, folks, calm down), but if all he's got is that and he'll implement the corporate owner's penny pinching ways, we're in trouble.
John Perrotto: I've never had the chance to meet him but people who have worked with him say he is a very bright guy and an incredibly hard worker. If he's told to stay wihtin a budget by Rogers, there isn't a whole lot he can do but stay within it. That being said, he seems like someone who could be very creative in staying within that budget and putting together a talented roster.
Matt (Chicago): John -- Do you think Tony LaRussa will be back with the Cardinals next year? How much of this is contingent on them signing Matt Holliday (of whom Tony is a huge fan)? Or on keeping Dave Duncan around?
John Perrotto: I think La Russa is staying, regardless of Holliday and Duncan. He seemed very content when I caught up him in early September, probably as content as I've ever seen him. I have a gut feeling if they win it all this year, he might retire. He didn't give any hints of that but it's just a suspicion I have.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): The 2009 breakouts who slip slide away in 2010? Pineiro, Gregerson, Feldman, Reimold, someone else? (I like Gregerson; he's just been so unbelievably good this year I can't see it continuing.)
John Perrotto: I agree with you on Gregorson. I like him but he certianly can't be unhittable his whole career. Reimold's leg problems at an early age give me pause for concern, too, though I think he'll be a good player if he stays healthy.
Matt (Chicago): John: Fill in the blanks. Brandon Webb gets a _____ year deal this offseason at $______ per year (up to $_______ per year with incentives).
John Perrotto: one-year at $2 million with $6 million in incentives.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): I was chatting with a fellow Jays fan last night, and we're very hopeful the team trades a couple of arms for OF fliers, a la the Quentin move by Kenny Williams the other winter.
Obviously, that's a tough act to follow, but who would be good fits for that tactic? We came up with Milledge, Dukes, Pie, Delmon Young, and Chris Young. Which pitchers would or should go? Which OFs here are the most realistic and best targets? Are we overlooking someone?
John Perrotto: I'd say the most likely to be available are Dukes, Pie and Delmon Young. If I were the Jays, I'd dangle Purcey since they another lefty in Rzepcynski.
nonspin (NY): So, it was just announced that Jose Molina will be catching AJ Burnett in his postseason starts. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
John Perrotto: Because Joe Girardi holds dear to that archaic belief that certain pitchers can only work well with certain catchers.
stewbies (rochester): What has Milledge's attitude been like since arriving in Pitt and how likely do you think it is that he will start to live up to the hype next year? Also, is LaRoche a solid option at 2b next year?
John Perrotto: Milledge's attitude has been great. He worked extremely hard to make himself a better outfielder and hitter. I really think he could breakout next season. It seems like, after two trades, that he realizes his window of opportunity is narrowing. I think LaRoche is a good enough athlete to play second. He improved dramatically as a third baseman this season.
flyingdutchman (Oakland): I just have to know what your rationale could possibly be for putting Leyland on your short list for Manager of the Year. With all due respect, that is preposterous. Are you aware of the nightly mismanagment of pitchers and position players that goes on in the Detroit dugout? Watch, because it's very likely to occur again this afternoon...
John Perrotto: The rest I put him on is this: I really thought the Tigers were going to finish last with an aging and ill-fitting roster. Even though they've blown a big lead, they're still playing. I'd given them no chance of having a game on Oct. 6 back in spring training.
William (Mobile, AL): Any ideas of what the Royals should do this offseason ? Stay the course or a complete restart ?
John Perrotto: The Royals are in a quandary here. They don't have many players to trade who would fetch them much in return. The few they do have, they would want to hang on to. Ownership has committed to Dayton Moore for the long haul, so all the Royals can do is keep trying to build through the draft and continue a long and tedious process of taking small steps forwward.
brian (brooklyn): I will bet you a Yuengling that the Mets win more games over the next 5 years than both the Nats and Pirates
John Perrotto: I don't drink, so how about I get a Coke Zero if I win. Normally, I'd take your side but the Wilpons being wiped out financially, they can't throw money at their problems now and they have very little in the pipeline. Rough times ahead, I'm afraid.
Paul (Boston): As a Yanks fan, should I be rooting for the Tigers or the Twins? Does it come down to Joe Mauer or the Tigers' trio?
John Perrotto: I'd root for the Twins. I just think the Tigers could be tough in that series, especially with Verlander able to pitch twice.
jromero (seattle): Kieth Law was surprisingly down on the Reds' outlook. What's your take? I know Bailey's been pitching well against weaker lineups, but if they get something out of him next year to go with Cueto and Harang and can land another decent SP, aren't they in the hunt for the Central, especially if Holliday departs? Is it really impossible for them to go after Holliday?
John Perrotto: From what I understand, the Reds aren't going to be able to add much payroll and Scott Rolen constituted their big move for 2010. I think the Reds have a chance in a division that is pretty weak. The big thing for them is to avoid injuries because, as was shown this season, they don't have the depth to loss many players.
John Perrotto: Well, thanks so much for all the good questions. As usual, it was a lot of fun. Enjoy the start of the postseason and let's chat again soon.