Zac (Bos via Cle): Ok Rob, easy one to start with...Can the Indians use their underdog status in the Central to overtake the sexy pick that is the Tigers?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: If they're underdogs it's very slightly...
Matt (Westfield): Do you think the Tigers are for real, or are their 'pen problems going to get them in the end?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I don't think it's an eithor/or sort of thing, Matt. I think they do have bullpen problems that will keep them from winning 95 games, but they're still good for 88-92 and I have them winning the WC.
Blake (Ann Arbor): I'm sitting in class right now and not by a Tv, but can someone tell me why Brandon Inge is playing center field?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Sure. Granderson's on the DL and Inge is Superman.
Carl (Lansing, MI): I did not know that superman bats 9th.
SportsNation Rob Neyer: That's how good this lineup is!
Shaky (Detroit): Verlander is looking good so far. How do you think he will do this year?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Well, he's my Cy Young pick. That's pretty good.
Schultz (Virginia Detroit): Rob, want do you think about the Tigers this year. Better then the Indians line-up wise?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Sure. By a little bit. But I have the Indians with an edge pitchers-wise, and acing the Tigers by a game or two in the Central.
Bryan (Queens): Mark Buehrle isn't very good. When will the mainstream realize this? He's the definition of one of those guys who gets praise because of his reputation, not his stats.
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Boy, I don't know ... He's good for 30-odd starts EVERY year -- at least he has been, for seven straight seasons -- and he's got a 3.80 career ERA in a hitter's park. Granted, his K-rate these last two seasons is worrying...
Joe (New York): How did Verlander look today?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I was mostly watching my computer screen, but he looked pretty good to me. He did groove that pitch to Gordon, who hit it a long ways.
Mike (Chicago): Why has Mark Buehrle looked so ineffective so far today? And why do I worry that he is not as good as he once was as he now enters the prime of his career?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: As I mentioned, his falling strikeout rate probably should be a concern. It's hard to get away with that for long unless you've got a super-sinker.
Joe (Detroit): Who is your pick for AL MVP? I'm a tigers fan, so make me happy. =]
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Ummm, well, I have Sizemore winning. If it makes you feel any better, I think I had Sizemore winning last year, too. And look how that turned out. Aside from the American Central standings, I mean.
MATT (BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT PA): Who do you have going to the playoffs out of the American League?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Yankees, Indians, Tigers, Angels. Not many shockers in there, huh? (I can guess what your next question will be...)
Chaz Moss (Philadelphia, Pa): No BoSox?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Ah, there it is ... I basically have the Tigers and the Indians and the Red Sox all bunched up, a rung below the Yankees. So, forced to drop one of them out of the playoffs, I chose the Sox. Just a gut feeling, really. They look just a little old to me.
Kalvin (East Lansing, MI): Ok, back to the game at hand. Please talk about rating Sizemore over Granderson. I feel that last year Granderson proved himself to be the most complete outfielder in the game. His hitting and defensive together are better than any other player in the bigs. I take that back, Ichiro might be a little more complete, but I would still take Grandy.
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I might take Grandy for this year, or I might not. But Grady's something like 16 months younger, which makes a difference when we're talking about their respective futures.
Justin (Cleveland): Do you think Asdrubel Cabrera will be able to hold down the 2b job here in Cleveland
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Sure, why not? As a hitter, he's better at shortstop.
Aaron (Denver): What have you heard about Lariano returning for the Twins? Do you think he will pick up where he left off, or will he struggle? Thanks!
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Major league hitters have not been kind to pitchers coming back from major surgeries. At least not in the short term. This is basically a rehab season for Liriano, which isn't to say he won't have some good games.
Dan (New York): Cliff Lee has repeatedly had struggles with the Indians, although he will inevitably string together a few quality starts. Is he the right person for the 5 spot in the rotation or was he put there because of his large contract?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I'm sure that didn't hurt, but Aaron Laffey -- my choice -- wasn't having a good spring, last I checked. I'll be surprised if Lee sticks around long enough to start 20 games for the Tribe.
Wes (Indianapolis): Is Kosuke Fukudome obviously better than Matt Murton? Are the Cubs making a mistake by not giving Murton a chance to play everyday?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Yeah, I think Fukudome obviously is better than Murton. I like Murton, but he's really a fourth outfielder on most teams. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Paul (Evansville): Rob, why do you say that Murton is only a 4th outfielder? He is coming into the prime of his career and had a .790 OPS last year. That's better than every outfielder on the Braves last year
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Yeah, but he's not been real good against right-handed pitchers, and last I checked there were a lot of them in the majors.
Paul (Champaign): Hawk and his sidekick DJ should be replaced. Their commentary adds absolutely nothing to the game.. but what is the ruling on the interferance (not obstruction, that's defense..) at second? As long as you hit the bag, are you allowed to slide whereever you want?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I'm not sure it's that clear-cut, and anyway the runner threw his hands out and sort of grabbed the shortstop's legs. That's not cool, is it? ... Meanwhile, Octavio Dotel's getting killed in Cleveland. I wonder when he's going to stop getting such chances...
Noah (NYC): The call at the plate was definitely wrong, but interference was the right call. What the Hawk can't seem to grasp is that the runner threw his right arm out long after the play with no other reason than to interfere. Casey Blake just made my day. It's like watching your game with two obnoxious friends yelling at you the whole time.
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I have to admit, after listening to those guys bloviate about the Sox getting jobbed, it's hard to pull for their team.
Erik (Oxford, UK): Thome had an impressive day today. Do you think he's a likely candidate for the hall?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: He's got a fair amount of work to do, considering all the sluggers with whom he'll be competing. That said, if he finishes with 600 homers and 1700 RBI it's hard to see him not making it eventually. He doesn't really *feel* like a Hall of Famer ... but that doesn't mean he's not.
Sri (Portland, OR): Rob, Manny's hall of fame chances?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: He's as good as in. All those 100-RBI seasons and high MVP finishes are plenty. And the World Series rings are like two cherries on top.
Mark (Charlotte): The Tigers weren't really a good team until Leyland started coaching them. Do you think that with a better coach the Pirates could turn it around and become playoff contenders?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I think Leyland played a part in getting the Tigers to where they're at, but a massive payroll -- for that division, anyway -- didn't hurt. I don't know that there's ever been a manager in history who could turn the Pirates into contenders immediately, though Billy Martin could probably whip them to 82 wins or something.
ryan (nebraska): do you think the twins have a chance (even if its an outside one) to surprise some people?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Sure. There's some talent there. But all that talent would have to develop at once.
Stosh (Branford, CT): is it me or does it seem like everybody is overrating Detroit. their pitching staff aside from Verlander is average and most of their position players are coming off of career years(Ordonez, Granderson), injury/age(Sheffield, Pudge), or struggle when faced with pressure(Renteria w/ Boston).
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I can't argue with anything here, except maybe your point about Renteria. I do have the Tigers edging the Red Sox for the Wild Card, but nobody should be surprised if they're on the sidelines next October.
Joe (Chicago): They're showing the replay of the White Sox/Indians game today. We're to the point where Hawk and DJ go off on the umpires again. It's good entertainment.
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Yeah, that was fun. They just didn't want to let it go, did they? I wonder if, afterward, someone explained to the two ex-major leaguers that yeah, that really *was* interference...
Greg (Cleveland): Hey Rob, I heard the Indians, after doing their own defense analysis, have concluded that Franklin Gutierrez was the best RF in the majors last year. Have you heard anything along these lines, or are they just blowing smoke?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Oddly, I had him No. 2 in the majors. Great minds ... jk ... In my experience, teams tend to slightly overrate their own players even when doing objective analysis. But if the Indians say he's good, I suspect he is.
Gerardo (Tempe, AZ): Over/Under: J. Bonderman 16 wins
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I'm going to take this over, figure he's good for 17 or 18. Finally.From The Marathon
and his follow-up the next day. Believe it or not, this is at most ten percent of the whole chat.