After a swing through the Grapefruit League on the beat, John Perrotto's back in the saddle and taking your questions.
John Perrotto: Hi everyone! The regular season is starting to get closer and closer. Let's talk a little baseball.
SprungOnSports (Long Island): Do you think that projected Rangers rotation could do enough to contend in the AL West with the stronger rotations in Seattle and Anaheim? Holland, Hunter and Lewis are still question marks?
John Perrotto: I think they have the potential to very good but they will need a lot of things to break right, i.e. their young guys need to improve and Colby Lewis needs to show he really did improve during his time in Japan. I think the Rangers will contend. I think any of the top three could win the division.
Jenrry Mejia (Flushing NY): Do the Mets have the capability in terms of player development for me to reach that "upper echelon starter" potential you guys slapped on me... Or will they find away to botch this the way they seem to botch everything?
John Perrotto: I spend one day in the Mets' camp and everyone, and I mean everyone, raved about the kid. While I preface this by saying you never know for sure about prospects, I really think this kid is going to make it big unless all the Mets' people, all the beat writers and all the scouts I talk to are all wrong.
SprungOnSports (Long Island): How impressed have you been by Jennry Mejia yet how depressed would you be if the Mets rushed him to the majors in April?
John Perrotto: I'm not as opposed to bringing up young guys as some people. However, I think if he comes to the majors to start the season, it would be as a reliever where they could ease him into the competition.
GrinnellSteve (headed to Florida): Is there any precedent for a player as good as Andruw Jones to fall off a cliff and then climb back up to something approaching his former heights? A good (not great) Jones could be a difference maker in that division. Or should I put my faith in winning the Powerball jackpot instead?
John Perrotto: Dave Parker in the '80s comes to mind. I don't think Jones will be a superstar again but the reports from Arizona have been encouraging. Maybe he can at least return to being a good major-league regular.
John (NH): What's the difference between a pitcher waiting until mid-season to sign and a position player waiting until mid-season to sign? Is it plausible for a guy like Sheffield to not start playing until June or July?
John Perrotto: I would say a hitter actually could do it easier than a pitcher. Baseball people will universally tell you that spring training is almost seven weeks long because the pitchers need time to get ready. Most position players tell me they are ready to go by no later three weeks, usually after two weeks. Hence, I'd have to say someone like Gary Sheffield could get ready quicker than someone like Pedro Martinez.
yo ho ho (nP): who looks the most out of shape so far this spring?
John Perrotto: That's funny but in the teams I saw in Florida, nobody really stood out as being really out of shape. On the other end, I was impressed by David Ortiz. He looked like he was about 15-20 pounds lighter.
Philly (Fanatic): hi JP, big fan of your contributions. What do you think are the best below the radar FA signings this winter?
John Perrotto: I'd say the best signing was Orlando Hudson with the Twins for one-year and $5 million. I think he will prefer plenty of value for the Twins at that price.
Pat (New Jersey): I may be jumping ahead a few months, but what would you say the odds are that Adam Dunn is still in DC after the trade deadline?
John Perrotto: I'd say 70 percent he's still there. Mike Rizzo doesn't seem like the type of GM who is just going to sell off his spare parts. The Nats want to win as many games as they can to establish some credibility in their market.
Brian (Tinley): John -
What makes spring training a good time or a bad time to be a beat writer covering a team?
John Perrotto: The good time is that atmosphere is more relaxed and players usually seem to have more time to talk. If you're from the North, like me, it's nice to get an extra dose of warm weather (though not this spring). The bad is, at least in Florida, is the travel, you might spent four or five hours in the car just covering one road game. That wears you out after awhile. Arizona is much easier from that standpoint.
Jquinton82 (NY): I have the 2nd overall pick in an expansion draft... who do you like best of the following: Michael Stanton, Desmond Jennings, Domnic Brown, Aroldis Chapman, or Jenrry Mejia?
John Perrotto: I have to go with the power hitters and take Michael Stanton. Everyone has been raving about him this spring.
Matt (Chicago): Assuming the high-payroll, veteran group falls short again this season, what direction do you see the Cubs going in over the next couple of seasons?
John Perrotto: I think they would have to retrench and start think about rebuilding, though it's hard for them to do now since they sell out every day and the expectations have become so high in the last few years.
tommybones (brooklyn): What the heck are the Giants doing with Buster Posey?! Any idea what the plan is? Do they even have one?
John Perrotto: I have no idea in the world why they would consider playing him at different positions. He has a chance to be a perenial All-Star catcher. If they feel he needs more time at Class AAA, that' sfine. If they think he should switch positions, that's poor thinking.
EGO (Berkshire County): What type of offensive numbers do you think we will see from Alcides Escobar over the course of his first full season as the Brewers SS?
John Perrotto: I'd say .270 with a handful of homers and 25 steals, while showing the potential for growth.
paulbellows (Calgary): I would think that Rauch would close for the Twins. What are you hearing?
John Perrotto: There continue to be rumblings that Francisco Liriano is going to be the closer. The Twins are playing it close to the vest and also waiting until Nathan throws on Friday with the hope (against hope, I'm afraid) that he might be able to pitch through his injury.
dianagramr (NYC): Hi John ... thanks for the chat ...
1) Which team would be the best fit for the nomadic, enigmatic Elijah Dukes?
1a) Which team will actually sign him?
John Perrotto: That's a great question. There is no question he is talented. There is no question he is troubled. I wonder if the Mets might not take a shot on him. I think Jerry Manuel would be the right guy to manage Dukes with his patient and positive approach.
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Your own over/under for wins by the Pirates this season is ______.
John Perrotto: Well, I'm no oddsmaker but I'd 68 would be a good betting line for the over/under and I'd go over and say they win somewhere between 70-72.
Not Bob Smizik (Not at PNC Park): Just how much does Bob Nutting hate my guts? *grin*
John Perrotto: I really should recuse myself since Nutting (or actually one of his lackeys) fired me last October.
Bill (New Mexico): Should Cardinals fans be concerned about the fact that Matt Holliday hasn't appeared in any spring-training games in over a week, or is the team just being super-cautious with a guy who's basically ready to go?
John Perrotto: I think they are just being supercautious. I don't get any indication that he's seriously hurt.
Jasper the Cat (Sitting in the sunshine): Have you seen Julio Borbon yet? If so, how good does he look to you?
John Perrotto: I have not seen Borbon but people who have think he'll be OK as the leadoff hitter. Not great but OK.
Luke Ravenstahl (Laurel Highlands, PA): When do you think Pedro Alvarez makes an appearance at PNC Park this season?
John Perrotto: I'd say right after the All-Star break.
Adam (Rochester): Looking for all the help I can get, who should I keep in a non strikeout fantasy league, Jered Weaver or Ryan Dempster? Also, what's your best guess for how Andy LaRoche does this year? Thanks!
John Perrotto: Jered Weaver, definitely. LaRoche will be better, I'll say .270-15-65.
Patrick (MPLS): Why don't the Yankees send Joba back to the minors to work out his problems as a starter? It seems way too early in his career to say he can only pitch in the big leagues as a reliever.
John Perrotto: Because the pressure is always on to win now and Chamberlain would help them more pitching out of the bullpen then starting at Scranton. I think the Yankees are aslo coming to the conclusion that his internal wiring makes him better suited to reliever, where he can go hard in short spurts.
mj (edmonton): Something I've always wondered: What exactly goes on when a pitcher throws a "simulated game"?
John Perrotto: Basically, it is sort of like a batting practice situation. A pitcher will throw to a certain number of batters and teh coaches will decide balls and strikes and whether each ball in play is a hit or an out. Usually, a pitcher will throw about 20 pitches in an inning then go sit down for 5-7 minutes (simulating the time he normally would spend sitting in the dugout while his team batted) and then do again. Typically, the pitcher will work two or three innings in a simulated game, making it a lot easier to throw simulated no-hitters.
Adam (Rochester): If the Nats want to establish credibility and win as many games as possible, don't they have to start Strasberg in the Majors???
John Perrotto: You're right but they won't,w hich is totally contradictory but that's how baseball seems to work.
TGisriel (Baltimore): Reports are that Koji Uehara is pitching well this spring. Last year he didn't hold up physically as a starting pitcher. Is there any reason to believe he will hold up better in the bullpen?
John Perrotto: Well, that's the hope. Frankly, the Orioles are keeping their fingers crossed about Uehara's health.
ashitaka (long beach, ca): Hey John, Can you tell us anything positive out of the A's camp? Things seem redundant. This is their fourth year in a row with a Sheet-load of health questions going into the season.
John Perrotto: Adam Rosales, who they got from the Reds for Aaron Miles, has been outstanding. There's some good news, though Ben Sheets pitching well would be better news.
TGisriel (Baltimore): Where does Brian Roberts stand with his back injury?
John Perrotto: The Orioles are worried enough that they are calling around to other clubs to see if there are any second basemen available.
ashitaka (long beach, ca): Have you seen "Sugar?" How accurate a depiction is it of baseball academies, and of the minor leaguers who come from Latin America. I had no idea families host players like foreign exchange students.
John Perrotto: I have not seen it but people who have and are familiar with the process of signing, developing and eventually assimilating Latin players into professional baseball say it is a very accurate film.
TGisriel (Baltimore): How do you think Wieters will do this year? One assumes somewhere between his disappointing start last year and his hot finish. Which will he be closer to?
John Perrotto: He's going to hit .622 with 81 home runs. No, seriously I think he hit .285 with 22 homers. A good step forward with better seasons to come.
tommybones (brooklyn): Does Montero play for the Yanks next season, or do you think he's gonna be dealt during the season?
John Perrotto: Montero's bat is special and I get the strong feeling there is no way Brian Cashman gives him up.
Charlie (Bethesda): Nats now have a gaping hole in right field with some 'meh' options - move Dunn back to the OF (who's gonna play first), move Kennedy out there and let Desmond start, play Mike Morse, play Willie Harris, sign Dye... what do you think they should do?
John Perrotto: It seems Maxwell is their first option in right but signing Dye is definitely a possibility. Somehow, someway, Willie Harris will work his way into the picture because he produces everytime he ever gets a chance to play.
Yatchisin (Fantasy Land): As a second starter freezer in a custom Yahoo league that uses a full range of stats, would you go with Yovanni Gallardo or Javier Vazquez? That is, tons of potential on a lesser club, or the older guy off the great year going back to the tougher league?
John Perrotto: I've been thinking about getting a second starter freezer for my basement if they ever go sale. Seriously, I'd take Gallardo. I just think he has all the talent to be one of the best starters in the NL.
John Perrotto: Well, thanks for all the good questions! Talk to you soon.