Network's Mae chats about Cactus League

Network's Mae chats about Cactus League

MLB Network's Hazel Mae participated in a live online chat with fans on Thursday. During the chat, Mae answered questions about her reporting from the Cactus League, where she covered teams' Spring Training for "30 Clubs in 30 Days."

Hazel Mae: Hi everyone -- thanks for joining the chat! Great to be back from Arizona.

punksroo: Now that you've seen the Cactus League teams, which club do you think we'll see in the postseason?

Mae: Well, you can't rule out the Giants and the Rangers -- can't rule out the defending champs from both leagues. I'd say the Giants, Rangers, Brewers and White Sox. We've always known the Brewers have had a good offense, but this year they've boosted their pitching staff with the additions of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. The top three guys in their rotation were all Opening Day starters last year. The White Sox have always been right-handed heavy in their lineup and now, with the addition of Adam Dunn, you can pencil in 40 home runs and 100 RBIs. Add to that, his home field will be hitter-friendly US Cellular Field. If Jake Peavy returns to his Cy Young form of 2007, that should also boost the pitching rotation. I was encouraged when I talked to him during "30 in 30."

dsc2: Would you blame Matt Kemp's lack of progression on his seemingly new "Hollywood" lifestyle?

Mae: It's hard to say, because sometimes, when you're in a big market, there can be more off-field distractions. He has all the natural ability to be one of these five-tool players. Why isn't he? I don't know if it's the "Hollywood" lifestyle.

punksroo: Which Cactus League player that you interviewed surprised you the most?

Mae: Buster Posey. I've always read how he was mature beyond his 23 years, but in speaking to him, he was very professional. He's a Derek Jeter-type interview, as it's all about the team -- much more than it is about him. Given his age, his contract and that he's a reigning world champ, I found him to be humble, professional and beyond his years. Felix Hernandez, too. I was surprised at how personable he was. He smiled and joked with us but on the mound, he's this stone-faced, fierce competitor.

philip407: Which team will surprise this year?

Mae: I'd like to say the Orioles, because I like what Buck Showalter did with that team at the end of last season. I also like adding veterans like Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and Vlad Guerrero. And don't forget that you've got these prospects who are still trying to reach their potential, like Matt Wieters.

mb6789: What is your favorite part of Spring Training? Your favorite thing about "30 Clubs in 30 Days"?

Mae: My favorite part of Spring Training is actually going to all the spring homes of the teams. There are some that have gone above and beyond just being a Spring Training facility, like Salt River Fields, the D-backs and Rockies' new complex -- I loved that. I loved Camelback Ranch, where the Dodgers and White Sox train. Meeting a lot of the up-and-comers at these camps is great, too. Even though we won't necessarily see Bryce Harper or other top prospects during the season, we get to see them in the spring. As for "30 Clubs in 30 Days," getting out on the road and doing these in-depth features on all 30 teams is awesome.

dsc2: Did Brian Wilson let you touch the beard?

Mae: No! First of all, I didn't even ask because, as we all know, it's "magical." The beard's a lot fuller in-person! He is one of the most unique individuals I've ever interviewed in my life. You don't know what you're gonna get when you ask him a question. Are you going to get a serious baseball answer or his late-night comedy routine answer? But to his credit he was both candid and entertaining in our "30/30" interview.

espoboy: Who did you have most fun interviewing?

Mae: Cubs manager Mike Quade. I found him to be refreshingly candid for someone embarking on his first full season managing a big league club. I thought he was generous in his answers and he had a lot of energy, a lot of personality.

mb6789: Which MLB Network analyst is funnier: Kevin Millar or Eric Byrnes?

Mae: Byrnes is funnier. He has this childlike quality in him. He's still that little boy who loves baseball, who loves going to the ballpark. He's carefree and never afraid to make a fool out of himself, as you've probably seen him diving in Studio 42!

dsc2: If Harper and Anthony Rendon were both in this year's Draft, who do you think would have gone first overall?

Mae: I don't know much about Anthony Rendon, but Harper seems to be a can't-miss.

mb6789: How was the move to MLB Network from NESN? Covering all the clubs instead of focusing on one?

Mae: It was exciting to be able to cover all 30 clubs but at the same time, there's a lot more homework to be done. I get the best of both worlds because I still get to keep an eye on the Red Sox and how they're doing.

espoboy: Next year, if you could only follow one team throughout all of Spring Training, which team would it be and why?

Mae: I'd say the Royals. From what I hear from Mike Swanson, of their PR staff, their influx of talent from the Minor League systems is going to blow people away. All they kept saying to me was "Just wait, Hazel. Just wait." Another one would be the Nationals camp and the return of Stephen Strasburg from Tommy John surgery.

mb6789: Any chance for your Blue Jays this year?

Mae: As a lifelong Blue Jays fan, I would love to see the team get back into the postseason for the first time since 1993. I want to be hopeful, but they're in the AL East and we know how tough that division is.

Connie Rutter, via Facebook: Hazel, do you think Matsui will retire soon?

Mae: I'm assuming you're asking about Hideki (and not Kaz) ... He's got a one-year deal at age 37, and if this past winter is any indication, landing a DH job is getting tougher the older you get.

punksroo: How was the Giants' attitude this spring? A little cocky or are they getting down to business looking for a repeat?

Mae: Definitely getting down to business. The general feeling I got was while they were pleased with winning the World Series, that's in the past. They've had their chance to celebrate and they are 100% focused on moving forward, hopefully getting to the Fall Classic this year.

Mae: OK, I have time for one more question...

chuckls: Will Chuck Greenberg's departure from the Rangers management team end up being a distraction for Texas?

Mae: I don't think so -- Nolan Ryan is still at the helm and with his baseball knowledge and the support of the organization behind him, I'm totally confident that the product on the field won't be compromised.

Mae: Thanks everybody! Gotta run and do an update. Peace, eh!