Tag:AL Central
Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:57 pm
 

Five active surefire Hall of Famers



By Matt Snyder


With the Hall of Fame voting results revealed this coming Monday, it's always a perfect time to look at ahead at future Hall of Famers. Sure, we'll debate about them when the time comes, but why wait? We've got time -- as it's a slow time of the year for baseball.

Thus, Eye On Baseball will do a five-part series about current players who may or may not eventually be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The first part, this one, will deal with players who could retire right this second and be a sure bet to be voted into the Hall. While the resume isn't necessarily complete -- one of these guys' is far from complete -- it's already Hall-worthy.

Anyway, considering we're saying a player can retire right this instant and still easily get into the Hall, this list is short. It's just five names. We'll go in alphabetical order. To reiterate, this isn't players who we think will get in one day (which would certainly include someone like Roy Halladay). This list is of guys who could call a press conference and retire right now and still make the Hall.

Hall of Fame coverage
Derek Jeter: The Captain was already headed to Cooperstown regardless, but the 3,000th hit this past summer completed his first-ballot resume. He has a career .313 batting average with 240 homers, 339 steals, a Rookie of the Year award and five World Series rings. His postseason line -- .307/.374/.465 with 20 homers in 152 games -- along with seven top-10 finishes in MVP voting further cements his legacy.

Chipper Jones: Jones joined a division-winner and was one of the key members of 11 more division championships, winning the World Series once. The seven-time All-Star won the 1999 MVP -- pretty darn tough to do in those days for a presumed non-juicer -- and finished in the top 10 in voting five other times. He has 454 home runs and over 1,500 runs and RBI. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Jones' game is he's walked more times than he's struck out in his career, helping to give him a .402 career on-base percentage. His .935 OPS ranks him 31st in MLB history.

Albert Pujols: Will the "longevity" crowd go nuts over this pick? Maybe. But c'mon. The guy has been one of the three best players in baseball for 11 years and the best since Barry Bonds retired. To randomly select a recent inductee, Jim Rice played 2,098 games in 16 seasons; winning one MVP and finishing in the top five six total times. Pujols? He's played in 1,705 games. In his 11 seasons, he's won three MVPs and finished in the top five 10 times. He already has 445 career home runs and his rate stats are insane. Pujols' .328 career batting average ranks him 33rd of all-time. His .420 OBP ranks him 19th and his .617 slugging percentage ranks him fourth ever. Only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig had a higher mark. Yes, those rate stats tend to decline with age, so then I'd go back to the prime and point to the top five MVP finishes. Oh, and the two World Series rings, along with several huge postseason hits.

The point is, while he hasn't played 15 years, for example, few in the history of the game have ever put up 11 seasons at any point in their career as Pujols already has, so he's in right now. The only thing that could possibly keep him out is an unfortunate test at some point, but we're talking facts here, not baseless speculation.

Mariano Rivera: Obviously there's a spot for the best reliever in major-league history. Not only does Rivera hold the all-time record with 603 regular-season saves, but he's closed down 42 of 45 postseason save chances with a sparkling 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Small sample? Not really. It's 141 innings, which is roughly twice as many as he'll throw in a given regular season. The 12-time All-Star also has those five rings, like Jeter does. Rivera's consistency, dominance and longevity mean he's a sure bet, even if other relievers have had trouble getting in.

Jim Thome: Is 600 the new 500? It used to be that hitting a 500th home run was like punching one's ticket to Cooperstown. That club has grown to 25 guys now, and will be adding one more pretty soon (Pujols). That's still pretty exclusive and might remain a barrier that always gets guys voted in -- assuming the PED cloud of suspiscion doesn't hang over their heads the way it does McGwire and Manny Ramirez, to name two. For good measure, though, Thome just went past 600 home runs this past season. Only seven have ever hit more homers in a career, three of which (Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez) will have to deal with those PED questions.

Thome doesn't just hit home runs, either. He's drawn 1,725 career walks (eighth all-time), which has helped him garner over 1,500 runs and a .403 career OBP. He also ranks 26th in history with 1,674 career RBI. Even if most of Thome's value does stem from hitting home runs, that's the best possible outcome a hitter can have. That's like saying all a football player does is score touchdowns -- more than all but seven have in the game's history. How is that bad?

Coming Thursday: Borderline candidates among older veterans
Friday: Players over 30 who have a shot of getting there with a few more good years
Saturday: Players under 30 building a good foundation
Sunday: Asterisk candidates -- on-field numbers good enough but PED issues cloud matters

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 3:22 pm
 

Beyond the closer -- baseball's best facial hair



By C. Trent Rosecrans


When it comes to baseball facial hair, all the glory seems to go to the closers -- from Rollie Fingers to Rod Beck to the modern-day duo of Brian Wilson and John Axford. Wilson's beard has made him baseball's version of Peyton Manning -- appearing in more commercials than games. And then there's Axford, the Brewers' closer won the title of Mustached American of the Year from the American Mustache Institute, despite the fact he's Canadian.

Well, why should closers have all the fun? We need to get back to the glory days of the 70s and 80s when mustaches weren't just for the closers, they were for everyone in baseball. So, with that in mind, here is some of baseball's best mustaches, beards and other facial hair variations that are sported by players other than closers.

The outfielder -- Toronto's Eric Thames

 

Thames gets bonus points for versatility, changing his facial hair throughout the season, from simple stubble to some fantastic sideburn-mustache combos. Kudos to Thames for several of his combinations and his sheer willingness to experiment. A true All-Star in terms of facial hair.

The infielder -- Seattle's Brendan Ryan

 

Ryan finished the season clean-shaven, but hopefully he's using the offseason to get this glorious 'stache back in shape for spring training. Ryan also knows how to sport some awesome stirrups, so the man knows his style.

The starter -- Minnesota's Carl Pavano

 

Pavano's 'stache has its own Facebook page, as well it should.

The middle reliever -- Cincinnati's Sam LeCure

 

LeCure used his mustache to raise money for prostate cancer as part of the Movember movement. While a native of Missouri, LeCure went to college at Texas, so he's taken note of the great gunslingers of the old west for inspiration for his 'stache.

The manager -- Seattle's Eric Wedge

 

Like Ryan, Wedge shaved late in the 2011 season. Let's hope Wedge brings back the mustache -- which just commands respect. 

The bench coach -- Tampa Bay's Dave Martinez

 

Martinez didn't shave his beard, but he did give it a good trim late in the season. But you've got to give the guy credit for keeping that glorious monster alive during a Florida spring and summer. Sure, Tropicana Field is air conditioned, but you've got to leave the ballpark sometimes and that humidity is deadly.

The umpire -- Jim Joyce



Joyce became a household name for the way he handled his blown call costing Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010, but his mustache screams authority and confidence, meaning we believe him now when he says out or safe -- no matter what's happened in the past.

The mascot -- Mr. Redlegs

 

Mr. Met is probably the best mascot in the game, but the Reds took the Mr. Met template and one-upped him with a handlebar mustache -- which is like the bacon of facial hair, it makes everything better.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 1, 2012 2:12 pm
 

Jason Frasor traded back to Blue Jays

By Matt Snyder

For the second time this winter, the White Sox have shipped a relief pitcher to the Blue Jays. This time around, it's Jason Frasor headed back to Toronto in exchange for minor league pitchers Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb, the White Sox have announced.

The two clubs also made a trade during the Winter Meetings, sending closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays. Also interesting here is that Frasor was traded to the White Sox by the Blue Jays in July. He's made 475 career appearances, 455 of which came with the Blue Jays, so Frasor is definitely back where he's familiar.

Frasor, 34, had a 3.60 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 60 innings last season, but he was much better (2.98 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) with the Blue Jays. He was really bad for the White Sox after the deal. So maybe the change of scenery was bad and he'll recover now that he's back with the Jays.

Jaye is a 20-year-old right-hander. He went 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 54 innings in Rookie Ball last season.

Webb is a 22-year-old right-hander. He was 4-5 with a 5.48 ERA in 67 1/3 innings last season, all but 1 1/3 of which were in Class A. He also threw 1 1/3 innings in Rookie Ball.

Frasor will be part of the bridge to Santos, along with also-newly acquired Darren Oliver and Casey Janssen.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 1:08 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 1:10 am
 

Report: Mariners close to signing Iwakuma

Hisashi IwakumaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Mariners are close to signing Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, according to Nikkan Sports (via YakyuBaka.com).

FREE AGENT TRACKER 

The A's won the bidding for Iwamura's posting fee last offseason, but were unable to reach an agreement with him in the 30-day window, so he returned to Japan for the 2011 season, where he went 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA in 17 games. In parts of 11 seasons in Japan, he went 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA and started three games -- including the championship game -- for Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In the WBC, he finished with a 1.35 ERA in three starts, two against South Korea and one against Cuba.

Iwakuma, 30, was limited by right shoulder problems in May, but went on to pitch well the rest of the season. Iwakuma exercised his international free agent option, allowing him to sign with any Major League team.

There had been reports that as many as five teams had interest in Iwakuma, and then recently the number was listed at four, including the A's, Twins and Mariners. The Pirates and Nationals were also rumored to be interested in Iwakuma at some point.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 31, 2011 7:36 pm
 

Matt Garza still drawing plenty of interest

Matt Garza

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Teams still looking for a front-line starter have apparently focused in on one guy -- Cubs pitcher Matt Garza.

The 28-year-old right-hander is available as new Cubs brass focuses on rebuilding long term, while Garza's attractive not only because he went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA for the Cubs last season, but also because he's arbitration-eligible for the next two seasons.

According to several reports, the Marlins, Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays are interested in Garza. The American League East teams are particularly interested, because Garza has braved baseball's best division as a member of the Rays.

The newest name out there available for the Cubs is Toronto right-hander Kyle Drabek, Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune writes. Drabek was the main piece the Phillies sent to Toronto in exchange for Roy Halladay. Drabek, 24, was 4-5 with a 6.06 in 18 games and 14 starts for the Blue Jays in 2011.

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported the Blue Jays and Yankees have the type of pieces the Cubs are coveting for Garza. Word is the asking price for Garza is quite high, which would match what has been given up for the likes of Gio Gonzalez, Mat Latos and Trevor Cahill, although those three are under team control for longer than Garza.

The Cubs, though, don't have to act now. They can hold onto Garza and wait until a team gets more desperate during the season. It would, however, be a bit of a surprise if Garza is still a Cub in August.

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Posted on: December 31, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 2:28 pm
 

White Sox trade Carlos Quentin to Padres

Carlos Quentin

By C. Trent Rosecrans

In their never-ending search for players who can hit at Petco Park, the Padres have traded for White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, the team announced on Saturday.

In return for Quentin, the Padres sent two minor-league pitchers, right-hander Simon Castro and left-hander Pedro Hernandez to the White Sox.

Quentin, 29, is arbitration-eligible and will be a free agent after the 2012 season. He hit .254/.340/.499 with 24 home runs in 118 games for the White Sox in 2011 and made $5.05 million. While Quentin made his second All-Star team in 2011, he played in just one of Chicago's last 37 games because of a shoulder injury. He is a career .252/.346/.490 hitter in parts of six seasons with the White Sox and Diamondbacks.

"Improving our offense is a priority this offseason," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said in a statement released by the team, "and the acquisition of Carlos gives us a proven middle-of-the-order bat. We specifically targeted Carlos because of his production and his hard-nosed style of play."

Quentin is a San Diego native.

Castro, 23, was 7-8 with a 5.63 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A, striking out 94 batters in 115 innings and 22 starts. He was Baseball America's No. 58 prospect in baseball before the 2011 season. Hernandez, 22, was 10-3 with a 3.49 ERA in three minor-league levels, striking out 94 in 116 innings, while walking just 22. He pitched in 28 games with 18 starts.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 11:19 am
 

And the Bloggies go to...



By C. Trent Rosecrans

No need to get dressed up -- but the Bloggies are here and they're best viewed in sweatpants or pajama pants. The winners, the winner get nothing. But we get to fill out a post and bring something new.

So, Monday (Part I) and Tuesday (Part II), we put up the nominees in several categories and let the fans vote. Well, we couldn't just stick to that, because we all know the internets is for disagreement over awards, so Matt Snyder and I will chime in with our picks, as well.

Best Moment(s) of 2011
Fans: World Series Game 6
Snyder: Game 6
Rosecrans: Sept. 28

Most Historic Milestone
Fans: Derek Jeter's 3,000th
Snyder: Jim Thome's 600th
Rosecrans: Jeter's 3,000th

Biggest Surprise
Fans: Cardinals
Snyder: Albert Pujols to the Angels
Rosecrans: Cardinals

Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Fans: Ryan Braun's failed test
Snyder: Braun
Rosecrans: Coco Crisp not sticking with the 'fro

Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Fans: Red Sox
Snyder: Red Sox
Rosecrans: Red Sox

Most Bush League Moment
Fans: Carlos Zambrano quitting on his teammates
Snyder: Carlos Guillen's celebration in the Jered Weaver/Tigers feud
Rosecrans: Zambrano

Worst Call
Fans: Jerry Meals
Snyder: Billy Butler's "inside the park" home run
Rosecrans: Meals

Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
Fans: Ozzie Guillen
Snyder: Nyjer Morgan
Rosecrans: Guillen

Best Twitterer
Fans: @DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips)
Snyder: @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy)
Rosecrans: @BMcCarthy32

Biggest bonehead move
Fans: Mike Leake been caught stealing
Snyder: Leake
Rosecrans: Leake

Best celebration
Fans: None: They're all lame
Snyder: None
Rosecrans: None

Weirdest injury
Fans; Matt Holliday and the moth
Snyder: Holliday
Rosecrans: Holliday

Most impressive home run
Fans: Francisco

Snyder: Upton

Rosecrans: Upton

Best defensively play
Fans: Phillips

Snyder: Revere

Rosecrans: Revere

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 27, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Voting for the 2011 MLB Bloggies, Part II



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With just a few days left until 2012 brings us a whole new year, it's only fitting to look back at the year that was. Sure, there's an actual baseball season, including spring training, the regular season and the postseason, but things happen nearly every day throughout the entire calendar year. So we're going to create a fake award and call it a Bloggie. 

We'll set the table with some nominations and let you, our readers, vote for the winners. We did Part I on Monday and this is Part II: Electric Boogaloo. Friday, we'll post the winners and our staff picks. Without further ado ...

Best Twitterer
• @JGuthrie46 (Jeremy Guthrie): The Orioles starter loves his Air Jordans and often gives updates on his newest kicks, but he also trash talks with his teammates in an entertaining feed.
• @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy): The A's right-hander may be the most prolific tweeter of English Premier League analysis in baseball. He also shows off a great sense of humor.
@LoMoMarlins (Logan Morrison): The Marlins' brass may disagree, but Morrison is candid and entertaining with his tweets, even if it got him in trouble with the front office.
@DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips): Phillips not only engages with his fans on Twitter, but also brings them into his real life. He's held contests to give away not just merchandise, but also a trip to spring training and even asked fans what to do on a day off, and when a kid invited him to his baseball game, Phillips showed up.
@str8edgeracer (C.J. Wilson): The off-season's most sought-after starter tweeted during the season, throughout the World Series and even in free agency.



Biggest bonehead move
• A-Rod's popcorn snafu: Usually having a famous actress feed you popcorn is a badge of honor -- unless you're Alex Rodriguez. Not only did Fox cameras catch then-girlfriend Cameron Diaz feeding A-Rod popcorn during the Super Bowl, but then Rodriguez made it worse by allegedly was upset about the shot.
Mike Leake's shopping spree: The second-year Reds pitcher was arrested for taking $60 worth of shirts from a downtown Cincinnati Macy's in April. He eventually pled guilty to a lesser charge.
• Distracted baserunner: The Reds and Phillies went 19 innings on May 25, but the game could have ended earlier -- with a different winner -- had Phillips been playing more attention to pitcher J.C. Romero than to his conversation with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. While gabbing with Rollins, Romero picked Phillips off at second. What made it worse was that the Reds had two on and one out -- and were a ball away from loading the bases -- before Phillips got picked off. After walking Scott Rolen, Romero walked Jay Bruce to load the bases with two outs, but David Herndon replaced Romero to get out of the inning.
Beer and chicken: Beer and fried chicken are great things -- unless you're consuming those two in the clubhouse as your team is playing on the field. The backroom hijinks got Terry Francona fired and may have cost the Red Sox a shot at the playoffs.
Tony La Russa's communication breakdown: If the Cardinals hadn't come back to win the World Series, Tony La Russa's gaffe in Game 5 would go down as one of the worst of all time. La Russa claimed the crowd noise at Rangers Ballpark prevented him from communicating with his bullpen. He said he wanted his closer, Jason Motte, to get warmed up, and instead Lance Lynn was told to get warm. When Lynn came into the game, his manager was surprised and the Cardinals went on to lose the game.



Best celebration:
Brewers: Milwaukee's "Beast Mode" was inspired by Prince Fielder's kids and the movie Monsters, Inc.
Diamondbacks: Was the team's "Snake" inspired by the movie Dodgeball?
Yadier Molina: The Cardinal catcher either did a "cry baby" or motorcycle celebration during the NLCS.
Rangers: Texas' "claw and antler" started in 2010 and started the signaling to the dugout trend.
None, they're all lame.



Weirdest injury:
Jeremy Affeldt: The Giants left-hander suffered a deep cut that required surgery on his right hand when he used a knife to attempt to separate frozen hamburger patties.
Sergio Escalona: The Houston reliever suffered a spraining ankle when he tripped over a glove during batting practice.
Matt Holliday: The Cardinals left fielder left a game after a moth flew into his ear.
Zack Greinke: The Brewers' ace debuted on the disabled list after he broke a rib in a pickup basketball game before spring training started.
Chris Narveson: Another Brewer pitcher with an odd injury, the left-hander cut himself while fixing his glove.

 

Most Impressive home run:
Juan Francisco

Justin Upton

• Prince Fielder

Mark Trumbo

Mike Stanton




Best defensive play:
Asdrubal Cabrera

Brandon Phillips

Ben Revere

Jeff Francoeur

Sam Fuld




So, cast your vote and check back Friday for not only the winners, but also the choices from our staff.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com