Posted on: September 20, 2011 3:26 pm
By Matt Snyder
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Triple the intrigue: OK, let's set the scene. We have Tim Lincecum (13-12, 2.59) vs. Clayton Kershaw (19-5, 2.30). We also have the Giants trying to make a last-minute playoff run, as they're 3 1/2 games behind the struggling Braves in the NL wild card. On top of that, the Giants are going for their ninth straight victory. It's a triple threat. Just don't expect much scoring. Kershaw owns a career 1.26 ERA against the Giants and a 0.71 ERA in his last seven starts. Lincecum leads the majors with a 2.02 road ERA and has a 1.65 ERA against the Dodgers this season. Kershaw is looking to join Arizona's Ian Kennedy as the only 20-game winners in the NL. Giants at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET.
NL Wild Card: As stated, the Giants are just 3 1/2 games back in the NL wild card race, but they have a team between them on the Braves. The Cardinals are 2 1/2 out -- just two in the loss column. With less than 10 games left in the season, every game is paramount at this point. The Braves will turn to young Randall Delgado (0-1, 3.24) to help right the ship after a heartbreaking loss Monday night. Anibal Sanchez (8-8, 3.62) gets the ball for the Marlins, and that's good news for the Braves. They've battered him (6.39 ERA) the last five times they've seen him. Braves at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, the Cardinals return home to open a six-game homestand. They'll continue to play without All-Star left fielder Matt Holliday, but it may not matter if the pitching continues to throw the way it has of late. Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.71) takes his turn Tuesday night, and he's been great (2.20 ERA in last five starts) lately. Mike Pelfrey (7-12, 4.48) and the Mets will attempt to play spoiler. Mets at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET.
AL Wild Card: The Rays' pursuit of the Red Sox is a hot topic at present, as everyone paying attention knows, but the Rays face a tall order this week. After taking three of four in Boston, the Rays still trail the Red Sox by two games in the AL wild card and now have a four-game series in New York against the mighty Yankees, who sport the best record in the AL. Wade Davis (10-9, 4.41) will start the series opener for the Rays, and the Yankees counter with rookie of the year candidate Ivan Nova (15-4, 3.81). Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET. A couple hundred miles northeast, the Red Sox are hoping to build on Monday night's 18-9 win. Trade deadline acquisition Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.50) will make his first start since Sept. 3. He'll also be taking on his former team, the Orioles, who send Rick VandenHurk (0-0, 6.00) to the mound. Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET.
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Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:26 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Gold Gloves are one of baseball's toughest awards to decide -- and sometimes toughest to understand. Unlike many of the game's other awards, the Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches, and every year it seems there's a winner or two that seems to win the award more with their bat than their glove.
Not only do some players seem to win it with something other than their glove, sometimes the award can be a lot like the Supreme Court, once you get elected, you're not going to lose your seat.
That said, it's a difficult award to vote for. There are better fielding statistics coming out every year, yet most are still in their infancy and can tell you only so much. Good defense, sometimes can be a lot like the definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave for pornograpy in Jacobelis v. Ohio in 1964: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embrued within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it."
With that in mind, perhaps the voters for the Gold Gloves should be the scouts, but instead I'll try my hand at picking out the best defensive players in the National League.
As tough as it is to use numbers to evaluate fielders, it's even tougher with catchers. At least the numbers with other fielders have some meaning, with catchers there's so much more to what they do defensively that it's hard not to go on reputation -- and nobody has a better reputation than Molina.
When Votto was coming up, people knew he could hit -- that was hard to ignore -- but his reputation at first base was nowhere near as good. Even as a rookie, he often struggled, especially on throws to a pitcher covering first. Since then, he's improved every year and this year he has proven himself to be the best defensive first baseman in the league. Votto, last year's MVP, covers more ground at first than any other first baseman in the league, which means it can be tough to get a hit if you hit it on the ground to the right side of the Reds infield, beacuse of the next guy on the list.
Second base: Brandon Phillips, Reds
A two-time Gold Glover, Phillips should be in line for his third. There may be no other player in baseball with as long of a highlight-reel as Phillips, who seemingly makes another amazing play every night.
There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year. The advanced stats don't tell you everything yet, but they're still pretty good. Sandoval leads qualified National League third basemen in UZR (12.3), UZR/150 (21.2) and plus-minus (20).
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken.
Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
The voting has changed this year to award Gold Gloves to each of the three outfield positions instead of three generic outfielder awards that usually went to center fielders. Carlos Gonzalez is tough to categorize, but considering he's played more games in left than any other spot, he's the easy choice here. He's started 60 games in left, 34 in right and 28 in center. He's played all three well, which isn't easy at spacious Coors Field, committing only one error on the season.
Center field: Shane Victorino, Phillies
This is one stacked category, with several deserving players. Under the old rules it would be easy, you'd have three center fielders and give them the three Gold Gloves. Under the new rules, it's a tougher choice. Victorino has had an MVP-type year, and no small part of that has been patrolling center field for the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian is as good as anyone out there and his error-less season gives him the edge.
Right field: Mike Stanton, Marlins
He may be known best for the moon shots off his bat, but Stanton is a surprisingly good defensive outfielder. Stanton has the combination of athleticism and arm strength to be the best defensive right fielder in the game.
Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Mets
A knuckleball pitcher needs to field his position well -- there are plenty of bad hits coming back to the mound off poor contact. Dickey has been very good fielding his position and helped his team with his glove.@eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: 2011 awards, Albert Pujols, Alex Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Astros, Brandon Phillips, Braves, Brewers, Brian McCann, Bronson Arroyo, C. Trent Rosecrans, Cameron Maybin, Cardinals, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Chris Young, Clayton Kershaw, Clint Barmes, Derek Lowe, Dodgers, Gerardo Parra, Giants, Gold Gloves, Hiroki Kuroda, Jake Westbrook, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Jose Reyes, Marlins, Matt Holliday, Mets, Mike Stanton, Nationals, Neil Walker, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Omar iNfante, Pablo Sandoval, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Placido Polanco, R.A. Dickey, Reds, Rick Ankiel, Rockies, Rockies, Ryan Zimmerman, Shane Victorino, Todd Helton, Tony Gwynn, Troy Tulowitzki, Yadier Molina
Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:19 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 12:20 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
It was noted earlier that MLB was examining the situation between Kershaw and the Diamondbacks' outfielder, but the newspaper said no more action will be taken. Kershaw was ejected from the Dodgers' victory on Wednesday after hitting Parra in the elbow in the sixth inning.
Kershaw will have a chance to improve his league-best 2.30 ERA and also will get two more chances to reach the 20-win barrier. Kershaw's final start will come in Phoenix against Parra and the Diamondbacks. Of course, with Arizona going to the playoffs, it would be wise for the Diamondbacks to let the situation stand and not try to get into any beanball war or anything -- the Dodgers are going nowhere and have nothing to lose. The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, have much more important things at stake.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 7:25 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Kershaw was ejected in Wednesday night's game for hitting Arizona's Gerardo Parra, the day after Parra took offense to nearly being hit by Los Angeles reliever Hong-Chih Kuo. Parra retaliated the old fashioned way, taking Kuo deep, before taking an extra couple of seconds to admire his homer and then spring around the bases. Kershaw, in the dugout, took offense at Parra's actions and yelled his displeasure.
Parra doubled in his first at-bat on Wednesday against Kershaw, but then Kershaw hit him in the sixth inning and was immediately ejected.
Neither team had been warned by the umpires before the game, nor during the game, but Joe Torre, the former Dodgers manager and current head of MLB's baseball operations, called Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly to tell him the head office in New York would be watching the game closely. Torre oversees the man who will decide on any further punishment for Kershaw, Joe Garagiola Jr.
Kershaw had a strike on Parra when he hit him, and both Kershaw and Mattingly argued with home plate umpire Bill Welke that Kershaw was just pitching inside and Parra didn't get out of the way. The pitch hit Parra in the elbow.
"The first at-bat I threw him all away and he hit a double, so the next at-bat I came in," Kershaw said (via the Los Angeles Times). "It's just unfortunate. I understand [Welke] has a job to do, but at the same time he has to pay attention to what's going on in the game better."
The Dodgers were leading 2-0 when Kershaw was booted. They went on to win, 3-2, with Kershaw picking up his 19th win of the season.
While I don't think Kershaw was upset the ball went in and hit Parra, I'm not so sure he was looking to hit him. Arizona's Miguel Montero doesn't agree with me, telling the Times afterward: "We knew he was going to [hit him]. I guess there was a warning going on already, especially with Parra. I think that's part of the game and the umpires did the right move."
It would be highly suspect if Kershaw hadn't been tossed after hitting Parra -- regardless of intent. That said, that should be the end of it. It seems like any other punishment would be excessive. Kershaw didn't like what Parra did, Parra took care of it with his bat and everyone's had their say. It seems it should be over -- even though Montero didn't seem to see it that way.
"We'll see him next time," Montero said.
And sure enough, MLB will be watching then.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 5:33 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto won't win the ERA title. Not only is he a hundredth of a point behind current leader Clayton Kershaw, Cueto is unlikely to pitch again this season, he told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon and thus fall six innings short of the minimum needed to qualify for the title.
Cueto left Wednesday night's game against the Cubs after just 3 2/3 innings with a strained right lat. He had the muscle examined on Thursday and told reporters he wasn't going to make his next scheduled start Monday against the Astros and his 2011 is probably done.
"I don't know at this point," Cueto told reporters through translator Tomas Vera (via MLB.com). "I want to throw but it hurts. I fell sore. It's painful right now. As the doctor told me, I will most likely lose the next outing but we'll see how it progresses to see if I can pitch one more time."
Cueto said he was still in pain and doesn't think it would be a good idea to push it just to win an ERA title. Cueto's ERA is 2.31, trailing the Dodgers' Kershaw (2.30) by a slight margin.
If Cueto is done for the season, 2011 will go down as a step forward in his career. The 25-year-old right-hander was 9-5 with a 2.31 ERA in 24 starts. He threw 156 innings, struck out 104 with a WHIP of 1.090 and leads the National League with a 169 ERA+. Cueto started the season on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and didn't make his 2011 debut until May 8. The Reds entered 2011 with what they believed to be a surplus of starting pitching, but that never really panned out. However, they did find out Cueto was a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, something the team lacked. Edinson Volquez started opening day but was twice demoted to Triple-A during the season. If Cueto is healthy to start next season, he's the team's no-doubt opening-day starter, baring a big free-agent signing or trade.
For their part, the Reds made a good move last offseason buying out Cueto's arbitration years, locking him up through 2014 with a team option for 2015. He made $3.4 million this season in the first year of a four-year, $27-million deal, in what could be a bargain if Cueto returns in 2012 and replicated his 2011 numbers or even continues to improve. In his four seasons, Cueto is 41-37 with a 3.83 ERA.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 1:36 am
By Evan Brunell
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: A one-hit shutout for Kershaw. Rather, it would have been if not for home-plate umpire Bill Welke tossing Kershaw in the sixth. Backstory: Last night, Gerardo Parra received a brushback pitch he didn't appreciate and launched a home run, pimping it out. The Dodgers weren't pleased as Parra jawed with catcher A.J. Ellis. Kershaw was also caught yelling from the dugout and allegedly telling Parra he would "get him" Wednesday night. Well, the first at-bat went without incident, Parra rapping a single. Allowing just one hit while punching out five as Kershaw took the mound for the sixth, he threw a pitch that grazed Parra's elbow. It certainly wasn't a full-on plunking, but Welke tossed Kershaw immediately without warning. Skipper Don Mattingly was thrown out in the ensuing argument. On one hand, you can understand why Welke would have been monitoring this situation and perhaps even a bit jittery about something exploding and wanting to keep a lid on it, but this was just silly. On a pitch that grazed Parra in a 2-0 Dodgers game during a shutout? It's hard to believe that warranted being ejected -- again, with no warnings issued prior.
Roy Halladay, Phillies: It was yet another divine performance for Halladay, who coughed up just six hits and one walk en route to blanking the Astros in a complete-game victory that edged his record to 18-5 and ERA down to 2.34. The win clinched a playoff berth for Philadelphia and was Halladay's eighth complete game of the year. "That's the beauty of being here," Halladay said, referring to the Phillies' muted celebration after the game. "We expect to win. You convert to that quickly, coming from a team where that wasn't the case. We had some big wins last year and come into the clubhouse and that's where we expected to be."
Carlos Beltran, Giants: It was a big day for Beltran, who blasted two home runs en route to a 3-1 drubbing of the Padres. Beltran was responsible for two of those runs off his solo homers in the 1st and 6th, pushing his overall line to .289/.386/.524 with 20 homers, notching 300 for his career. Beltran, once his injury subsided, arrived too late for the Giants to be of any good but has clearly proven San Francisco had the right idea in dealing for the outfielder. Now S.F. has to worry about extending him, as he'll be a prized player on the market.
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: The Pirates are now officially going to lose more games than they win for the 19th straight season. The club wasted a promising start that had them in contention at the trade deadline by immediately falling off a cliff and McCutchen is a prime culprit as to why. Prior to the All-Star Game, the center fielder hit .291/.390/.505 with 14 homers and 15 steals. But since then, in 203 at-bats, he's slashing .222/.330/.399 with eight homers and five steals. It's a disappointing end to the year for the 24-year-old after going 0 for 4 with a strikeout against the Cardinals.
Daniel Bard, Red Sox: Bard has been on rocky terrain lately and blew a 4-2 lead against Toronto by giving up three runs in the eighth, two earned. His ERA cracked 3.00 with the shoddy outing, rising to 3.10. He's now given up at least a run in his last three appearances, including five on Sept. 7 which is when his troubles began. Before that, his ERA was 2.10. Now, the team's best relief pitcher is imploding. It was the sixth loss in seven games for the Red Sox, who begin a crucial four-game series against the Rays on Thursday, where the AL wild card will hang in the balance.
David Huff, Indians: A grand slam highlighted David Huff's night, and not in a good way. Huff allowed eight runs in four innings, including Josh Hamilton's slam. But only three runs were earned, thanks to a Lonnie Chisenhall two-out error off the bat of Ian Kinsler. It was a dazzling game all around for Texas, who won 9-1. "That's what a team that was in the World Series last year looks like, a team that will probably win their division," Indians manager Manny Acta told the Associated Press . "We have some catching up to do."
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 10:37 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 9:45 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Cy Young Award winner.
Over in the American League, the engraver can already get the Cy Young Award ready, but in the National League it's a different story -- at this point it's not even an easy discussion when asking who is the Phillies' best pitcher. And just as surprising is that the answer to that question may not be the winner of the National League's Cy Young. Here's five of the leading contenders to be named the National League's best pitcher.
Roy Halladay, Phillies: Last year's winner could certainly repeat. Halladay's been… well, Roy Halladay. He's 16-5 with a 2.49 ERA and pitched seven complete games (although no shutouts). Halladay's so good and so consistent, he's just kind of boring. Sure, he leads baseball with 7.5 strikeouts for every walk and he will strike out 200 for the fourth year in a row, it's just… lacking the sizzle. He may be the best, but there's at least a question.
Cole Hamels, Phillies: While he's often an afterthought in the Phillies' rotation, the 27-year-old lefty is easily the best third starter in baseball. He's 13-7 with a 2.63 ERA and leads the National League with a .968 WHIP. Hamels did miss a couple of starts when he went on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation last month, hurting his counting stats, which probably knocks him out of contention for the big award. But voters have to vote for five pitchers, so he'll get some votes.
Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: The National League's leader in wins (18), Kennedy is the newcomer to this race and also gets bonus points for helping his team to the playoffs (while not as big of a factor as it is in the MVP vote, it can't hurt). The 26-year-old right-hander also leads in winning percentage (.818), but his ERA (2.96) isn't in the same neighborhood as the others in this list. He'll get votes, but won't win the award.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Now here's your hard charger in the race, putting up an 8-1 record with a 1.44 ERA in the second half of the season. Overall he's 17-5 with a 2.45 ERA and a league-leading 222 strikeouts. Wins for a pitcher don't mean what they once did, but the fact that he's won 17 games (and could end up leading the league) with a bad Dodgers team may make his stats even more impressive. His ERA is second-best in the league behind Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (2.36).
Cliff Lee, Phillies: And finally there's Lee, who has lived up to the offseason pursuit of his services. Lee is 16-7 with a 2.47 ERA and six shutouts -- only Pittsburgh and St. Louis have as many as three complete-game shutouts by starters this season. He's had two historic months -- going 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA and three shutouts in June and then going 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA and one shutout in August. He allowed just one run in June and two in August. He followed up his hot August with another shutout in his first start of September. He's also second to Kershaw in strikeouts (204) and second in strikeout-to-walk ration (5.1).
Who is the best candidate to win the NL Cy Young Award? We'll answer that later in the year, but have your say in the comments.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 10:56 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
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Pulling away: The National League's closest race is on the verge of being decided -- the Diamondbacks can take a commanding seven-game lead in the NL West with 23 games remaining with a victory in Sunday's series finale at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Arizona's Daniel Hudson looks for his 15th victory of the season and third straight. In his last four starts, he's gone 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA, pitching seven scoreless innings in his last start, a win over Coloardo. He's just 1-2 against the Giants this season, but limited them to a run on six hits in a victory at AT&T Park on Aug. 6. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong has lost each of his last three starts and four of his last five. Diamondbacks at Giants, 4:05 p.m. ET
Welcome back: Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison will get another chance against the Red Sox, returning to the team's rotation to face the same team that roughed him up in his last start. Texas manager Ron Washington inserted Scott Feldman into Harrison's spot in the rotation last week and used Harrison in relief on Wednesday. Harrison gave up seven earned runs on 11 hits in five innings on Aug. 24 against the Red Sox, prompting Washington to give the 25-year-old a short break. Harrison had a 3.04 ERA before the All-Star break and 4.56 afterward, so the Rangers hope the time off returns him to his pre-break form. Red Sox starter John Lackey hasn't had much success against the Rangers, either. In two starts against Texas this season, he's given up 13 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. Rangers at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. ET
Cy Kershaw: While the American League Cy Young race is about as excited as most of the races around baseball right now (read: not very), the National League competition has heated up because of the performance of Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw. The 23-year-old is 17-5 with a 2.45 ERA overall and 8-1 with a 1.32 ERA since the All-Star break. Kershaw has won his last four starts, allowing just two runs in those four games. Kershaw has five starts to win three games and become the Dodgers' first 20-game winner since Ramon Martinez won 20 in 19990. Dodgers at Braves, 1:35 p.m. ETFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.