MLB Network's Matt Vasgersian participated in a live online chat with fans on Tuesday. During the chat, Vasgersian answered questions about the 2011 season, Spring Training and more. The complete chat transcript follows.
Matt Vasgersian: Hey everyone -- thanks for taking some time today. Let's get started.
Boston2010: Who do you think has the best pitching rotation entering the 2011 season? In my opinion it's the Red Sox, not because they're my favorite team, but Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsusaka are just a good starting five.
Vasgersian: Beckett, Lackey and Dice-K have a lot to prove at this stage in their careers. Beckett and Lackey were pedestrian by their own standards last year, and in order for them to prove that they're not on the downward slope of their career, they need to bounce back. There's no way you can tell me that Boston's rotation is better than the Phillies' rotation.
Kalel1323: Having worked for MLB Network, do you still enjoy getting to just watch a game, and do you still have the same loyalty to the team you rooted for as a kid?
Vasgersian: Yes, I still root for the teams that I've worked for (the Brewers and Padres) and my childhood team, the A's. I've fashioned myself as the Oakland A's apologist for the Eastern Seaboard.
count7: Who do you like in the National League Central: Brewers, Cardinals, or Reds?
Vasgersian: I'm going to play it like somewhat of a homer, and say I like the Brewers in the Central. When Yovani Gallardo is the No. 2 or 3 starter, that's how a guy wins 20 games and becomes a Cy Young contender.
lopeze2: What do you think about the Cubs' chances to land Albert Pujols?
Vasgersian: Zero. Or less than zero, if that's possible. There's no chance -- if the Cards even smell that around the corner, it would never happen. That would just screw up the world!
Phillyfan123: Who do you think will win the the World Series this year, and why?
Vasgersian: It's hard not to like the Red Sox despite some of the durability questions with their rotation. They're just so loaded. That is virtually the AL All-Star team this year, position by position.
sammyrecio: Hey Matt, what can you tell me about the Mets? How do you think they'll be doing this season? Can we hold on until Johan Santana returns? (By the way -- I love MLB Network, it's the best and always on my TV.)
Vasgersian: Because the expectations are low, the Mets may encourage fans this year, but it's all about the finances. Once they get some of the big veteran salaries off the books they'll be able to spend money, but it may get a little worse before it gets better.
larule123: Do you think the Dodgers are going to make a major move before Opening Day?
Vasgersian: Let's see, how can I put this? No. If it wasn't for the consternation around the Mets' situation, you'd be hearing more about the Dodgers' inability to make a huge splashy move. They did well this offseason, given their payroll constraints, but these aren't your father's Dodgers.
cdragon: How well do you think the Tigers will do this season?
Vasgersian: I like the Tigers this season, a lot. Even though most people think the Miguel Cabrera situation is going to be a distraction, I think Rick Porcello is going to be the key guy this year. If he can start 2011 off like he finished 2010, then the Tigers have the best 1-2 in the division.
Yankeez4life: Who was your childhood baseball favorite? Who did you love watching the most?
Vasgersian: I was an A's fan and I loved Bert "Campy" Campaneris, because he was a little guy, he choked up on the bat. Everything's exaggerated when you're a child, and I felt like "Campy" Campaneris was on base four times every night.
kevind09: Can anyone in the NL compare -- or even have a chance at a title -- after the Phillies' Phab Phour?
Vasgersian: Yes. It's too easy to write things off to the Phillies and Red Sox this year. Something always happens. And as dominant as the Phillies' starting staff will be, their outfield doesn't inspire a lot of fear throughout the league. You still have to score. Somebody always comes out of nowhere. So whether it's the Marlins, who people forget about in that division, or the Rockies, who aren't going to sneak up on anybody, but might not get the national love that other teams do, there will be a "Cincinnati story" in the NL this year.
Amzs2121: Do you think the Orioles can win this year with their new lineup, or do you think that the AL East will be too tough?
Vasgersian: The Orioles are going to be involved in a lot of 10-7 ballgames this year. If Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen can continue to develop, they have a great chance at a winning season. That lineup can swing it with anybody this year, including the Red Sox.
Onlysumtimez: Give me a Braves prediction for this year.
Vasgersian: In it till the very end. This isn't anything you haven't heard before, but they have the best chance at giving the Phillies a scare, not only in the NL East, but I think the Braves are one of the top three or four teams in the entire NL. And Dan Uggla's going to hit 30 jacks in that lineup.
soxandfish: Marlins winning 90 games -- over or under?
Vasgersian: So many things have to go right just to win 90 games. I think that number may be just a little bit too high. Just think -- the Giants, last year, won 92 games during the regular season.
wanye: Who's your sleeper pick for most improved player?
Vasgersian: Brett Anderson. Entering 2010, he had added velocity and found a much bigger curveball, then he had some injury setbacks, but he's hiding in the middle of a good, young A's rotation and might sneak up on some people.
lopeze2: Why is everybody counting out the Cubs to win NL Central? I mean, we've got a great team, we added Matt Garza and Carlos Pena, and some of our young players are developing.
Vasgersian: Because they're not better than the Reds, Brewers and Cardinals!
bigstick116956: Matt, first off, you do great work on MLB Network! Second -- do you think Adam Dunn switching to the AL and taking on a DH role hurts him or helps him?
Vasgersian: Thanks! I think it helps him. He's never been known as a defensive stalwart, and now he can just do what he does best as a DH. I don't know why he gets discounted so often, but when you think about it, he is one of the most prolific home run hitters of his generation.
Philliekid10: Phillies -- 117 wins, thoughts?
Vasgersian: 117 wins?! Let me guess: You're typing this as you're staring at a Mike Schmidt poster, wearing a Garry Maddox jersey, with a Ryan Howard Fathead on the wall behind you? By the way, all-time greatest Phillie? Don Carman. Google his postgame "list of responses" to reporters.
Yankeez4life: If you had to choose between hitting a walk-off grand slam in Game 7 of the World Series, or breaking up a perfect game with two outs in the ninth during a World Series game, which would you choose?
Vasgersian: I've got to take the walk-off. To quote the great Herman Edwards, "You play to win the game!"
bball97: The Rockies' pitching staff seems underrated and overlooked, how would you rank them against other NL staffs?
Vasgersian: Agreed. They are overlooked and shouldn't be. Everybody knows about Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa. I've always liked Aaron Cook. He used to destroy the Padres when I worked in San Diego.
nationalsfan9: Give me a Nationals prediction for this year.
Vasgersian: Not sold. I know they've spent a lot of money this offseason, but, like the Orioles just down the Beltway, they're going to be involved in a lot of 10-7 ballgames.
bigstick116956: What is your guess for when Jake Peavy will be ready to go for the White Sox?
Vasgersian: All-Star break. He's been throwing off a mound since November and even though he's in uncharted territory with his injury, the guy is a total gamer and a big-time competitor. I understand he threw batting practice yesterday.
cjbdiesel: The Rangers have lost some big names but also picked up a couple. How do you think Brandon Webb and Adrian Beltre will impact the team, and what is going to happen to Michael Young?
Vasgersian: They effectively drove Young out. I just don't get that. It's not like he was an aging veteran whose productivity had dwindled. I'd rather have four at-bats per game from Young than Beltre.
cub100plus: Who would you pick to win the AL Cy Young?
Vasgersian: I'll continue to fly the flag for the West and give you two names: Jered Weaver, of the Angels, who's at the stage of his career where, as Dave Stewart and Bob Welch used to say, "A starter reaches his prime vintage." And Oakland's Trevor Cahill. I can't believe we left him off the list of the "Top 100 Players Right Now" on MLB Network.
cordy: How do you think the move to the NL will help Greinke? I am expecting the league change and move to a contender will help him get back to his Cy Young form.
Vasgersian: I don't know that anyone can predict what a change of circumstance will do for Greinke given his background. It's just too tough to predict what a change of uniform or leagues will do. I do know this: he's incredibly talented, and if the Brewers get anywhere near the Greinke that pitched in Kansas City, they'll be pleased.
Vasgersian: Got to get moving. Thanks for making some time. I've got a meeting to get into with Mitch Williams and Harold Reynolds. And by the time they're done talking about their own careers, it'll be close to show time, so....awesome. Thanks again!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.