Tag Archives: Miguel Cabrera

Season Preview: AL Central


With Spring Training well under way and the first games already in the books, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made. Today’s group is the American League Central.

Last Year’s Records
Minnesota – 94-68
Chicago – 88-74
Detroit – 81-81
Cleveland – 69-93
Kansas City – 67-95

Notable Additions

Chicago – Adam Dunn, Lastings Milledge

Cleveland – Orlando Cabrera

Detroit – Victor Martinez, Brad Penny, Joaquin Benoit

Kansas City – Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Vin Mazzaro

Minnesota – Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Notable Losses

Chicago – Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Freddy Garcia, J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, Scott Linebrink

Cleveland – NONE

Detroit – Johnny Damon, Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Armando Galarraga

Kansas City – Zack Greinke, David DeJesus, Brian Bannister, Gil Meche

Minnesota – J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Brendan Harris, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes

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Who are the Faces of their Franchise? AL Central Edition


Next up in my look at each organization’s Face of the Franchise is the AL Central…

  • White Sox – I think that at this point it has to either be Paul Konerko or Mark Buehrle. Both players have been with the team a long time, and both are known for being with the team as well. Buehrle may have gotten himself into a little bit of hot water earlier in the week regarding his comments about Michael Vick, but I think either would fit this title. Continue reading

Free Agent Signing – Victor Martinez to the Tigers


We have the first major piece to fall into place from free agency this offseason, with the news that catcher Victor Martinez has agreed to a 4 year, $50 million contract with the Detroit Tigers.

It appears, according to MLBTR, that Martinez was offered both a 3 year and 4 year deal by the Red Sox, but for less money than the Tigers offered. 

From the Tigers’ Perspective

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Fantasy Rankings in Review – First Basemen


Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. Next up is the review of my 1B rankings.

My Preseason Rankings
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Prince Fielder
4. Mark Teixeira
5. Ryan Howard
6. Joey Votto
7. Mark Reynolds
8. Kevin Youkilis
9. Kendry Morales
10. Adrian Gonzalez
11. Derrek Lee
12. Justin Morneau
13. Adam Dunn
14. Pablo Sandoval
15. Carlos Pena

Yahoo’s Final Rankings (Top 15)
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Paul Konerko
5. Adrian Gonzalez
6. Mark Teixeira
7. Aubrey Huff
8. Ryan Howard
9. Nick Swisher
10. Adam Dunn
11. David Ortiz
12. Martin Prado
13. Prince Fielder
14. Billy Butler
15. Adam LaRoche

I also mentioned Adam LaRoche, Paul Konerko, Billy Butler, Garrett Jones, Lance Berkman, Chris Davis, Michael Cuddyer, Todd Helton, James Loney, Justin Smoak, and Chris Carter as players potentially having value this year.
From my preseason rankings, Kevin Youkilis (19), Derrek Lee (21), James Loney (24), and Justin Morneau (25) all finished in the top 25. Mark Reynolds, Kendry Morales, Pablo Sandoval, and Carlos Pena did not make the top 25 at the end of the season.
Free Agents: Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Troy Glaus, Aubrey Huff, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena
What We Saw

Buster Posey’s season was better than anyone even thought. He finished at #23 in the 1B rankings for Yahoo, which is clearly an elite offensive position. Wow.

I thought Joey Votto would do extremely well this season, but clearly this was above and beyond what I thought either. I think he’s going to start next season as a top 10 player overall.

Talk about a walk year improvement. Paul Konerko went nuts this year, and finished with 39 homers and 112 rbi. He’s a free agent, and while they want him back in Chicago, it remains to be seen where he will end up. But he’s clearly not as done as we all thought he was.

Aubrey Huff is another free agent who should get paid this offseason after an excellent performance in San Francisco. Part of his value was having 7 stolen bases this season, which seems unlikely to continue. I just can’t convince myself that he’s particularly likely to repeat the overall performance in 2011.

Injuries really had an effect on the 1B depth, with Kevin Youkilis, Kendry Morales, Justin Morneau, and Troy Glaus all missed time during the season. It didn’t help that players like Mark Reynolds, Lance Berkman and Carlos Pena all struggled during the season.

Justin Morneau really concerns me for next season, due to the fact that he still has not been able to do any baseball activities since suffering that concussion in Toronto. He could potentially provide a very nice value for fantasy owners next year, but he won’t end up on any of my teams most likely.

Adrian Gonzalez will continue to be the topic of trade rumors throughout the offseason, and I think that if he gets traded to anywhere else practically, he’s going to provide even more offense than he did this season, which seems like it should be impossible.

Overall, some of these rankings were pretty easy (I’m pretty sure it takes no brains to rank Pujols at #1), but some of these players clearly underperformed (Fielder, Reynolds, Pena). I think that Youkilis would have finished above the #8 spot I had believed at the beginning of the season had he not gotten injured. Not a terrible job on these, but definitely some work to be done next season.

Preliminary 2011 Rankings (Very Raw)
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Adrian Gonzalez
5. Mark Teixeira
6. Ryan Howard
7. Prince Fielder
8. Kevin Youkilis
9. Paul Konerko
10. Adam Dunn

Season Previews in Review: American League Central


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I reviewed the AL East previously, and now it’s on to the AL Central.

Chicago White Sox

Predicted Record: 84-78            Actual Record: 88-74

This team’s record ended up slightly better than I thought it would, but actually finished in the same spot in the standings I believed that they would. They got solid pitching as usual, but not as much from Jake Peavy once he suffered a season ending injury. The move to second base for Gordon Beckham seemed to cause him some serious struggles throughout most of the season, and he didn’t seem to get his bat back until after the All-Star break.

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The AL Stan Musial Award


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Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever), and the Walter Johnson awards (Top Pitcher). Only one set of awards left to give out, and it’s the big one: The Stan Musial award, given to each league’s most valuable player.

Every season there seems to be a real debate as to what should be considered for the league’s most valuable player. It’s become pretty clear that there is (or at least should be) a difference between who is the best player and who was the most valuable to his team this season. Well, here’s my criteria (at least how I see it anyway):

Value to their Team

It becomes extremely hard for me to argue that a player who has a great season on a team with a lot of great players is more valuable than a player who has a great season on a team that doesn’t have a lot of good players on it. When I look at it, I start looking at how the team would perform without the player. If the player I am looking at were to miss extended time, would their team be able to easily replace what he does, or would they struggle until he returned to form?

The Complete Player

It becomes extremely important in my opinion, that for a player to be the most valuable player, they have to provide at least some value on both sides of the game. Clearly, there is value to a player who plays excellent defense in addition to a player who hits extremely well. To me, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a player needs to steal a lot of bases and hit a lot of home runs on the offensive side, but they should clearly be pretty close to elite for what they do. And in terms of players who are primarily designated hitters, to me they have to be far and away the most obvious candidate for them to get a lot of votes. While it is a position in the game, I think that it is important to find a way to offset the value they are not providing in the field.

Pitchers

I tend to view pitchers the same way as designated hitters in terms of the most valuable player. They would need to be unbelievably dominant to move ahead of top level position players.

The Big Stats

At this point, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore what the statistics tell us overall. It becomes hard to argue that there isn’t a judgment to be made when looking at value with regard to home runs, stolen bases, runs scored, runs batted in, and batting average, among many others. That said, it is something I look at, but it doesn’t become a spot where I just make a judgment based entirely on the statistics.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the AL Stan Musial award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 10 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

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The Month in Review – July 2010


With the trade deadline now past, we look to the stretch run for the playoffs.

By my own count, here’s the teams I still think have a decent chance of making the playoffs. I’m including teams in their division if they are still in the wild card race.

AL East: New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox (albeit slightly)
AL Central: Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers
AL West: Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels (also slight)

NL East: Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds
NL West: San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies

My Award Winners to Date

AL MVP –  Miguel Cabrera (DET)
NL MVP – Joey Votto (CIN)
AL Cy Young – Cliff Lee (TEX)
NL Cy Young – Josh Johnson (FLA)
AL Rookie of the Year – Brennan Boesch (DET)
NL Rookie of the Year – Jaime Garcia (STL)

Weekly Links and Weeks in Review

June 28th-July 4th
Midseason Review
July 12th-July 18th
July 19th-July 25th

Trade Deadline Review

June was an extremely busy month for stories, with so many that I had honestly forgotten a few of them before I reviewed my week-in-review posts.

  • The trade deadline was at 4 PM EST on Saturday, and we saw an unbelievable amount of transactions get done before then. You can read my thoughts on the deadline as a whole by clicking on the trade deadline review link above. There were some huge names moved (Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman), and also some big names discussed that didn’t go anywhere (Adam Dunn, Manny Ramirez, Jayson Werth)
  • Alex Rodriguez is currently stuck at 599 homeruns in his career, and is line for a huge payday when he finally hits #600 at some point. To the tune of $6 million.
  • The All Star game was played in Anaheim, and the National League actually won! (I know, it was a huge surprise to me too). This could potentially be really good for the contenders in the National League, as they will have home field advantage in the World Series.
  • Also during the All-Star break, the sport lost an icon with the passing of George Steinbrenner. You can read my thoughts on it here.
  • The Diamondbacks started cleaning out their house early in the month, starting with manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes. By the end of the month, they had made trades to move Dan Haren, Chad Qualls, and Chris Snyder. Interestingly, they held onto free agent to be Adam LaRoche, and much rumored player Kelly Johnson.
  • We had some pretty big names go on the disabled list this month, with Chase Utley missing nearly the entire month and phenom Stephen Strasburg put on the disabled list towards the end of the month. Justin Morneau is currently out indefinitely as well with issues stemming from a concussion he suffered earlier in the season.

What’s Coming in August

August is a bit of a catchup month, as I play to continue on with the Original Draft series posts with teams 12 through 7. There’s also 5 trade retrospectives planned, including 3 trades involving my Athletics. The amateur draft signing period ends in August as well, and I am planning a post looking at some of the big signings (and non-signings). I am scaling back posting here just a little bit, from 5-6 posts per week to between 3 and 4 per week so that I can also concentrate on some of my other writing ventures.

If you missed the announcement a couple of weeks ago, I have become a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance in July, and am looking forward to working with their community of bloggers. My first such post was some trade deadline thoughts I got from a trio of the bloggers over there, and you can read it here.

Thanks again to all the readers, and if you’re enjoying the writing, please feel free to either write a comment on the posts, and take a few seconds to become a fan of Jason’s Baseball Blog on Facebook. You can do that here.

Week in Review – July 19 to July 25


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (59-38) vs. Texas Rangers (58-41)
Chicago White Sox (53-44) vs. New York Yankees (62-35)

San Francisco Giants (56-43) vs. Atlanta Braves (57-41)
St. Louis Cardinals (55-44) vs. San Diego Padres (58-39)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Josh Hamilton (TEX) .357
Runs – Mark Teixeira (NYY) 75
Home Runs – Jose Bautista (TOR) 27
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) 88
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) 35

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) 15
Saves – Heath Bell (SD) and Brian Wilson (SF) 29
ERA – Josh Johnson (FLA) 1.61
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) 147
WHIP – Cliff Lee (TEX) 0.92

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Ben Sheets, Aaron Laffey, Luis Atilano, David DeJesus, Ryan Doumit, Manny Ramirez, Andy Pettitte, Dustin Nippert, Scott Kazmir, Ryan Sweeney, Orlando Hudson, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez,

Return from the Disabled List: Mat Latos, Ryan Ludwick, Sergio Mitre, Brian Roberts, Josh Beckett, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Yovani Gallardo, Ramon Hernandez, Kevin Millwood, Nate McLouth, Jed Lowrie, Will Venable, Mike Gonzalez, Oliver Perez, Clay Buchholz, Luis Castillo, Luke Scott, Maicer Izturis, Matt Wieters,

To the Minors: Jhoulys Chacin, Andrew Oliver

Called Up: Cedrick Bowers, Alex Gordon, Jose Arredondo, Scott Sizemore, Armando Galarraga

Trades:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were held on Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown, with Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog being enshrined for their performances. Back in December, I wrote up my thoughts on whether Dawson was a Hall of Famer or not. (I thought he was)
  • Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th homerun of his career this week, and will earn $6 million extra when he hits #600 due to a clause in his contract. Good for him.
  • The Mariners are really looking like a mess, and I am thinking it is probably going to cost manager Don Wakamatsu his job before the end of the season. On Friday night, he got into a shouting argument in the dugout with Chone Figgins over Figgins’ lack of effort on a play in the 5th inning of that night’s game. I actually agree that Wakamatsu did the right thing by yanking Figgins from the game, but teams don’t fire players very often for this kind of stuff.
  • The Moneyball movie has begun shooting finally, with Brad Pitt set to play GM Billy Beane, Jonah Hill to play Paul De Podesta, and Philip Seymour Hoffman playing manager Art Howe. Having been through the 2002 season as an A’s fan, and having read the book, this one’s going to be interesting. I’m wondering if the movie reopens the stats vs. scouts argument wounds again.
  • Major League Baseball, very quietly, announced that minor leaguers will now be tested for HGH in addition to all the other things they are already tested for. I’d be shocked if the next collective bargaining agreement doesn’t have this test in it for Major Leaguers as well.
  • The Angels made the big moves this week with acquiring 3B Alberto Callaspo first in the week and then making the huge splash with acquiring SP Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks for 4 prospects. Really like the trade for the Angels, hate it for every other team in the division (including my A’s).

From the Twitter Followers and Friends

If you aren’t yet, you can follow me over at Twitter here. These are some of the better reads I found from the previous week.

From the Hall of Very Good: HOVG posted a series of articles looking at the next group of players to be eligible for the Hall of Fame voting in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 (so far). Excellent reads from all of them.

From the Daily Something: Bill had a guest post from Jeff Polman which went ahead and played out the remainder of the 1994 season via Strat-o-Matic baseball. It’s a really interesting read, and Strat-o-Matic is something I keep reminding myself that I might enjoy when I have some more time.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: A series I had not finished up from earlier in the month, the Original Draft Series, is a group of posts where I look at what an organization’s major league team could have looked like had they held onto every player that they either drafted or signed to their first professional contract. There may be 3 posts this week on this, or there may be 6 if I am feeling ambitious.

Friday:  Trade Retrospective of Johan Santana to the Mets. This one’s a bit newer than a lot of the trades I have reviewed previously, but the players in the deal have pretty much finalized what their value in the trade is going to be, so it’s ready to be looked at I believe.

One Other Thing

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:

Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign.  Now we need your
help!

‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby.  ‘Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.

Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:

* Go to  www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
Baseball from the drop down list.
* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support

Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website

Week in Review – July 12 to July 18


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (55-36) vs. Texas Rangers (53-39)
Chicago White Sox (50-41) vs. New York Yankees (58-33)

Colorado Rockies (50-41) vs. Atlanta Braves (54-38)
St. Louis Cardinals (51-41) vs. San Diego Padres (54-37)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Josh Hamilton (TEX) .347
Runs – Carl Crawford (TAM) 70
Home Runs – Jose Bautista (TOR) 25
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) 79
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) 33

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) 15
Saves – Heath Bell (SD) 26
ERA – Josh Johnson (FLA) 1.62
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) 142
WHIP – Cliff Lee (TEX) 0.94

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Kerry Wood, Mat Latos, Mike Adams, Eric O’Flaherty, Reed Johnson, Matt Wieters, Justin Morneau, Doug Davis

Return from the Disabled List: Zach Duke, Manny Ramirez, Chad Durbin, Carlos Beltran, Jason Heyward, Placido Polanco

To the Minors: Jason Jaramillo, Dan Meyer, Brandon Hicks

Called Up: Allen Craig, Lorenzo Cain, Josh Bell

Trades:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • The All-Star Game festivities were this week, so there were only 4 days with games on them. The National League finally managed to get off the bench and win one, as they defeated the American League 3 to 1 on Tuesday. Brian McCann had the deciding hit, and was named the game’s MVP.  Manager Joe Girardi of the American League received a small ration of grief as well for not pinch running Alex Rodriguez for David Ortiz in the bottom of the 9th inning, but overall the game was pretty well played and well managed.
  • The Home Run Derby on Monday was won by David Ortiz, and since the majority of the players participating had very little home run derby experience, it was nice to see them get so much national exposure.
  • Sadly, the Yankee family lost a titan on Tuesday, with the passing of owner George Steinbrenner from a massive heart attack. I wrote up my thoughts on the Boss here.
  • The All-Star break ended with a surprising trade, as the Braves sent their starting SS Yunel Escobar to the Blue Jays for their starting SS, Alex Gonzalez. It appears that Escobar was not well liked in the Braves’ clubhouse, and there seemed to be constant concern with a lack of effort from Escobar. A true challenge trade, it remains to be seen which side will win this trade in the end, but I actually think it could be good for both teams.
  • It had been widely discussed that Padres’ ace Mat Latos would be on an innings limit, and there was talk that he might be placed on the disabled list so that he could be skipped for his next start and help to keep him near that innings limit. The surprise was the “injury” that he sustained to put him there. Apparently he tweaked a muscle trying not to sneeze. At least it’s not a deer meat injury.

From the Twitter Followers and Friends

If you aren’t yet, you can follow me over at Twitter here. These are some of the better reads I found from the previous week.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: I will be continuing on with my series of posts about the 2003 BA Almanac, going over both the Minor League All-Stars  the Top 20 Prospects by League, and the 2002 Top 100 Prospect List

Friday:  Trade Retrospective of Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs. This one is a huge trade, since 4 teams were involved in it, and also clearly had an impact on the pennant races as well.

Other News

I also wanted to let everyone know that in addition to writing for Fake Teams, I am also now a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. The group of over 200 blogs has writers who cover nearly every aspect of baseball you could think of, and honestly a couple I had not thought of yet.

The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America.  These awards can be found here in October with links back to the voters, ensuring transparancy and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball arguments.

Over the coming weeks, I will be taking a look at a lot of them (there are so many!), and may potentially writeup a few of them. We’ll see what happens, but I’m really excited to be here!

One Other Thing

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:

Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign.  Now we need your
help!

‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby.  ‘Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.

Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:

* Go to  www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
Baseball from the drop down list.
* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support

Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website

Midseason Review


We are halfway through the season and as happens every year, it doesn’t quite go exactly as we all thought it would.

Right before the season started, I wrote up my preseason predictions of how I thought the playoffs and awards would go:

American League

Correct so far: New York Yankees
Incorrect so far: Boston Red Sox (Tampa Bay Rays), Minnesota Twins (Chicago White Sox), Seattle Mariners (Texas Rangers)

National League

Correct so far: None
Incorrect so far: Philadelphia Phillies (Atlanta Braves), Chicago Cubs (Cincinnati Reds), Los Angeles Dodgers (San Diego Padres), St. Louis Cardinals (Colorado Rockies)

League Leaders at the Half

Batting Average: Miguel Cabrera (DET) and Josh Hamilton (TEX) – .346
Runs: Carl Crawford (TAM) – 70
Hits: Martin Prado (ATL) – 121
Home Runs: Jose Bautista (TOR) – 24
Runs Batted In: Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 77
Stolen Bases: Juan Pierre (CHW) – 32

Wins: Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 15
ERA: Josh Johnson (FLA) – 1.70
Strikeouts: Jered Weaver (LAA) – 137
Saves: Joakim Soria (KC) – 25

The Top Stories

The Year of the Pitcher Again?

The pitchers look like they may have gained back some of the advantage again versus the hitters, as we’re seeing a lot of amazing performances out of both elite and non-elite pitchers.

Starting Pitchers with an ERA under 3.00: 17
Starting Pitchers with 10+ wins: 12
Starting Pitchers with a FIP under 3.00: 6
Starting Pitchers with a WHIP under 1.10: 14

And of course, there’s the no-hitters:

Let’s not forget Armando Galarraga either, and his near-perfecto on June 2nd.

Ken Griffey Jr Abruptly Retires

Almost randomly,  Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement on June 2nd. I wrote up my thoughts on his career shortly after the announcement, but the long and short of it remains that Griffey always seemed to be having more fun than anyone else on the field, and was really a joy to watch play, no matter what he was doing.  I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going into the Hall of Fame at first opportunity.

Sadly, the story was lost among the Armando Galarraga near perfect game, as it happened about an hour after the announcement. Hopefully the Mariners will have him back at some point before the end of the season to really give him a great sendoff.

The Cliff Lee Sweepstakes

The Mariners were widely predicted to win the AL West on the strength of the arms of Felix Hernandez and offseason acquisition Cliff Lee. Unfortunately, the team has floundered quite a bit, to the point where it became only a matter of time for the Mariners to start selling off the pieces, including their newly acquired ace Lee. The trade discussions centered around the unlikely competitors of the Reds, Twins, and Rangers, along with the usual suspects (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays). Nearly every top prospect in their systems was mentioned as the potential trade pieces in return. It was even stranger when the Mariners had come to a deal with the Yankees, only to have that one fall apart and be replaced by a trade with the Rangers. I wrote up what I thought of the trade, and really liked it for both teams involved.

Break Up the Reds and the Padres!

Completely unexpectedly, the Reds and the Padres are both leading their divisions as we approach the All-Star break. The Padres are doing it with the best pitching in the Majors, led by young phenom Mat Latos (10-4, 2.45) and top power hitter Adrian Gonzalez (.301, 18 HR, 56 RBI). The Reds are being led by MVP candidate Joey Votto (.315, 22 HR, 60 RBI, 1.014 OPS), and a resurgent Scott Rolen (.292, 17 HR, 57 RBI). I honestly think that barring some unexpected injuries or other unusual circumstances, both teams have the talent available to hold on to their leads throughout the rest of the season.

3 Teams, A Maxiumum of 2 Spots

The AL East continues to improve every single year, as the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees have been trading 1st through 3rd in the division back and forth all season. Through Friday’s games, all 3 teams have the 3 top records in the American League. Clearly, this presents a problem, as only 2 of them can make the playoffs. Someone is going to have to separate themselves at some point, but I’m not sure when that is going to happen. The Rays got off to a hot start, but have struggled of late. The Yankees got off to a slow start but have come on strong and now lead the division. Even the Red Sox are only 5 games back despite having suffered an unusually high amount of injuries. Someone is going to be sitting at home unhappy despite potentially winning 90+ games in that division.

Managers Available for Hire

We could be looking at potentially having nearly half the teams in the Majors change managers by the start of the 2011 season. 4 teams have already gotten the ball started, with Fredi Gonzalez (Marlins), Trey Hillman (Royals), Dave Trembley (Orioles) and A.J. Hinch of the Diamondbacks. In addition, major skippers like Joe Torre of the Dodgers and Lou Piniella of the Cubs are both in the final year of their contracts, and it appears that more and more that neither man is likely to return. And of course, there is the expected retirement of the Braves’ Bobby Cox and Blue Jays’ Cito Gaston after this season as well. Invariably, there will be some other managers that could lose their jobs before the start of next year, and my own speculation leads me to think that potentially teams like the Brewers, Pirates, Athletics and even the Mariners could all potentially see new managers as well.

The Rookie Class of 2010

It seems like this year’s rookie class is by far one of the best in many years. The season started out with Atlanta Braves’ OF Jason Heyward making the team out of Spring Training, and has not let up ever since. 13 of Baseball America’s Top 20 prospects have already made their debuts, and many of them are seeing a lot of success.

  • Carlos Santana of the Indians is hitting .284 with 5 HR and 16 RBI since being called up on June 11th.
  • Buster Posey of the Giants is hitting .333 with 6 HR and 20 RBI while playing both catcher and first base.
  • Tyler Colvin of the Cubs has hit 12 homeruns in part time playing time so far this season.
  • Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch of the Tigers have been going back and forth for the AL Rookie of the Year award. Jackson got off to a hot start, but Boesch has passed him at this point. Boesch is leading all rookies with 12 homeruns and 48 runs batted in, and also is hitting .345.
  • Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins is quietly hitting .299 with 9 homeruns and 38 runs batted in.
  • Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals has exceeded all expectations, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.17 ERA and 80 strikeouts so far.
  • Mike Leake of the Reds surprised everyone by coming up without playing a single game in the minors and has a 6-1 record with a 3.53 ERA.
  • Neftali Feliz of the Rangers has stabilized the back end of their bullpen, recording 23 saves and earning himself an All-Star appearance.

Other top prospects that have come up as well: Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates, Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Alcides Escobar of the Brewers, Ike Davis of the Mets, and Justin Smoak of the Rangers… er Mariners.

Clearly though, the most anticipated debut didn’t come until June 8th…

Strasburg

June 8th was the Major League debut of the phenom, Nationals’ top prospect Stephen Strasburg. His starts in the minors were selling out every time through. He was sent down to the Minors after Spring Training to work on his performance with runners on base. As if he was actually allowing any of those down there. His minor league numbers (AA and AAA): 11 starts, 7-2, 1.30 ERA, 65 strikeouts to 13 walks in 55 1/3 innings pitched. At times, his stuff looked absolutely dominant, but the concern remained: Could he repeat this performance at the Major League level?

For the most part, the answer to that question is a resounding Yes. His debut against the lowly Pirates: 14 strikeouts, 0 walks, and a victory in 7 innings. So far, he has a 3-2 record with a 2.32 ERA and 61 strikeouts in just 42 2/3 innings pitched. He has had some games where his control has been less than stellar, including the 5 walk performance against the Indians. I have to admit, I thought that he would have some struggles when he got up to the Majors, but I didn’t anticipate the excellent performance overall that he has given to this point. The longer that Jason Heyward stays on the disabled list, the more likely it becomes that Strasburg will win the Rookie of the Year award for the National League. He simply looks dominant out there in nearly every start, and the stuff he throws is simply amazing. I hope he can stay healthy long term, as he is really going to be something special if he can.

Overall Reactions

After so many games being played, it has been a really good season to this point. As it seems to happen every season, there are some things that don’t go the way everyone expects, but it definitely makes it more interesting when there are new stories that emerge over the span of the season. It looks like it’s going to be a good race in many of the divisions, and could go down to the wire.

No post on Tuesday this week, and I’ll be back with a new post on Wednesday.