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Tag:Giants
Posted on: September 23, 2011 10:19 am
 

Pepper: Kemp is NL's most valuable

Matt Kemp

By C. Trent Rosecrans

They were wearing KEMVP shirts in Los Angeles on Thursday night -- and it's hard to argue with them.

In a season where there was little to cheer for at Chavez Ravine, Kemp's amazing 2011 season was something that never seemed to disappoint. And in the last home game of the season on Thursday, Kemp did nothing to disappoint -- with his mother in the stands, Kemp went 4 for 5 with three doubles and his 36th home run of the season.

And don't look now, but Kemp still has a shot at the triple crown -- he leads the league with 118 RBI, five ahead of Ryan Howard, he's just one homer behind Albert Pujols and he's third in batting average at .326, trailing Ryan Braun (.330) and Jose Reyes (.329).

He's also fourth in on-base percentage (.403), second in slugging (.582) and first in OPS (.985).  He also leads in total bases (335), runs (109), second in stolen bases (40) and second in hits (188).

If you like more advanced stats, according to Baseball-Reference.com, he leads in WAR (9.6) and OPS+ (171).

You may say his team stunk and he doesn't deserve the MVP -- but doesn't that make what he did more valuable? As bad as the Dodgers' season has been, they're still above .500 at 78-77 after last night's victory over the Giants. Andre Ethier had a nice run earlier in the season, but he's hardly been in the MVP discussion along with Kemp, while Braun has had Prince Fielder and Pujols has Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. Jose Reyes' team has a worse record and Justin Upton can't match his stats. Kemp's not only the best player in the National League, he's also the most valuable.

Historic collapse: No, I'm not talking about the Red Sox or Braves -- it's the Pirates. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, with a little help from the folks at Elias Sports Bureau, writes that in the modern age of Major League Baseball (otherwise known as "since 1900"), no team  has fared worse after being in first place at the 100-game marker. The Pirates have gone 16-40 since holding first place at 53-47 on July 25. The Pirates' .286 is by far the worst, with the 1977 Cubs coming second. That team was 60-40 through 100 games and then went 21-41 the rest of the way. You never want to be better than the Cubs at being bad.

Like his stature, Timmy likes his deals short: San Francisco's Tim Lincecum tells the San Francisco Chronicle  that he doesn't want to sign a long-term deal that would buy out his future free-agent years. Lincecum is eligible for free agency after the 2013 season.

Master storyteller: One of the great joys of this job is to meet some of the great personalities in this game. With broadcasters, most of their best stories come off the air -- and nobody has more and better stories than Vin Scully. Check out this story about Scully and Don Zimmer. [Los Angeles Times]

See you in San Jose?: Could the A's be the biggest beneficiary of the change in Giants ownership? They could be, and Mark Purdy, who broke the initial story, explains. [San Jose Mercury News]

Ichiro not ichi?: Ichiro Suzuki will likely have his streak of 10 years with at least 200 hits broken this week, and next year he may not be leading off. Mariners manager Eric Wedge is not committing to Ichiro batting in his customary leadoff spot next season. [Seattle Times]

Runs in the family: Raul Lopez, the father of the guy who caught Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, got a souvenir of his own on Wednesday. [New York Times]

Ax mustache spray: Brewers closer John Axford made this fake commercial. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

How about the American League MVP?: Forget Curtis Granderson on Adrian Gonzalez or Justin Verlander, Robinson Cano says that if he had a vote, he'd vote himself. He doesn't. [ESPN New York]

MVP improves: Last year's NL MVP, Joey Votto, says he did "more with less" this season than he did in 2010 when he won the league's MVP. Looking at his numbers -- and the absence of Scott Rolen in the lineup -- it's tough to disagree. If I had any quibble is it'd be that he did about the same with less. Either way, Votto was impressive and has established himself as one of the game's best. [MLB.com]

Oswalt not done: Although the 33-year-old Roy Oswalt had hinted at his retirement, his agent now says he's not considering hanging them up after this season. It may have something to do with Oswalt looking around at the weak free agent pitching market and seeing he'll get paid. [MLB.com

Porter interviewing again: If the Marlins were dating, they'd just about have to put out for Bo Porter by now. The Nationals' first-base coach is scheduled to interview for the Marlins' manager job soon, the Washington Post reports. Porter interviewed midseason last season when the team fired Fredi Gonzalez and then again after the season. Porter is among the candidates to take over in Washington, too, MLB.com reports

NL dreaming: White Sox starter Mark Buehrle says he's intrigued by the thought of pitching in a new league. Buehrle lives near St. Louis and has mentioned that he'd like to pitch for the Cardinals. Add him to Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia and you'd have a pretty good rotation. Of course, the Cardinals do have other financial concerns this offseason. How about Cincinnati? It's a little longer drive to his home, but the Reds rotation could certainly use the veteran. [MLB.com]

Celebrate good times: The Astros announced their plans to celebrate their 50th anniversary season in 2012 with six different throwback uniforms they'll use next season -- including the famous rainbow jersey, one of the best in the history of the game. [MLB.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 1:13 am
Edited on: September 23, 2011 6:07 am
 

Playoff race: Cards miss chance to narrow deficit


Salas
By Evan Brunell

Like the Red Sox, the Braves had an off-day on Thursday. They got to see the Giants slip to four games behind in the wild card race, which should be enough to close the books on their season. The Cardinals, meanwhile, missed a golden opportunity to see the Braves break out in hives. If the Cards had won, that meant that Friday could have seen a tie in the wild card standings based on Atlanta losing and St. Louis winning again.

Alas, the Cardinals imploded with a 8-6 loss after New York rallied for a run in the eighth and six in the ninth. If the Cards do end up missing the playoffs, it will be easy to point to this game as the backbreaker. St. Louis is now ensconced at two games behind as it begins a creampuff schedule for the rest of the year. St. Louis opposes the Cubs and Astros while the Braves have to claw their way through the streaking Nationals and vaunted Phillies.

If the Braves lose the wild card, they're going to be talked about as a team that collapsed. And rightfully so, given the Braves had a 10 1/2 game lead in late August, but don't overlook the schedule here. The Cardinals have an easy ride the rest of the way, and with every single game mattering these days, the schedule could have a major impact.

Atlanta Braves
88-68
Remaining schedule: 3 @ WAS, 3 v. PHI
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 74 percent

St. Louis Cardinals
86-69, 2 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 v. CHC, 3 @ HOU
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 23.8 percent

San Francisco Giants
84-72, 4 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ ARI, 3 v. COL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 2.0 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Fernando Salas sits in the dugout after being taken out of at baseball game during the ninth inning against the New York Mets Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, in St. Louis. The Mets won 8-6. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Posted on: September 22, 2011 5:14 pm
 

On Deck: Braves, Red Sox off, but chase continues

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Matt MooreBig start for rookie: Rays rookie Matt Moore made a good second impression on Monday when he threw three innings in the Rays' win in Boston, and now he has quite the stage for his first big-league start -- at Yankee Stadium with the Rays hoping to gain a half-game on idle Boston. The Rays are 2.5 games behind the Red Sox and now they have company, too, as the Angels are also suddenly tied with the Rays behind the Red Sox. Moore was the top pitching prospect in baseball and went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A, striking out 208 batters in 144 2/3 innings. Moore actually pitched better for Triple-A Durham than he did Double-A Montgomery. He went 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in nine starts, striking out 79 of the 204 batters he faced, while walking 18. He faces Bartolo Colon, who made his MLB debut when Moore was 6. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

Back in it: The Angels appeared to have blown their playoff chance after losing two of three in Baltimore, but have bounced back to win their last two games in Toronto, while Tampa Bay and Boston have tread water. Thursday starter Ervin Santana is 11-12 with a 3.40 ERA, but has lost each of his last three starts, allowing five earned runs in each of his last two starts. Since his complete game victory at Rogers Centre on Aug. 12, the right-hander is 2-4 with a 4.47 ERA in seven starts, with the Angels going 3-4 in those games. Rookie right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who has thrown six or more innings in his last six starts and hasn't lost since Aug. 26. Los Angeles returns home after the game tonight to face the A's and the Rangers to finsih the season. Angels at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET

Surging Giants: The defending champs have won five of their last seven games, getting to within 3.5 games of the National League wild card, trailing the Braves and the Cardinals. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner starts for San Francisco and has won each of his last five starts, putting up a 1.04 ERA with batters hitting just .189/.256/.262 against him over that stretch. That includes a five-inning, three-hit performance against the Dodgers on Sept. 11. Since August, Dodger starter Hiroki Kuroda's record has improved, with him winning six of his nine starts. Giants at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 22, 2011 2:12 am
 

Playoff race: Vazquez trims Braves lead to 1 1/2

Vazquez

By Evan Brunell

The Braves couldn't solve Javier Vazquez on Tuesday, dropping a crucial game to the Cardinals in the NL wild card chase.

Vazquez has been on fire for the Marlins after starting the season with poor results. He's given up just one run in his last five starts, trimming his ERA to 3.77 and no longer looking washed up. Derek Lowe had a solid start of his own, but couldn't keep pace with Vazquez as the Braves dropped to 7-13 in their last 20 games. The Cardinals, meanwhile, rebounded from Tuesday's loss to take out the Mets and move just 1 1/2 games behind the Braves, and this is officially a race as the calendar flips its way toward October.

The Giants are only on the periphery of the wild card race, but they too won to push their own deficit to 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta. It's too little, too late for the defending World Series champions, although technically the odds still say they have a fighting chance. With a three-game set with Arizona upcoming, though, they will have a tougher go of it than St. Louis to overtake Atlanta, as the Cards have seven games left against teams with losing records. St. Louis will finish up its series with the Mets on Thursday before taking on the Cubs and then feasting on the Astros. The Braves, meanwhile, have to get past a Nats team that just warned the Phillies they will be competing for the division soon. Then, the Braves have to contend with the Phillies so there is all too real a possibility that Atlanta could fritter away a 10 1/2 game lead in the wild card chase in the span of a month.

Atlanta Braves
88-68
Remaining schedule: 3 @ WAS, 3 v. PHI
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 64.2 percent

St. Louis Cardinals
86-69, 1.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 v. NYM, 3 v. CHC, 3 @ HOU
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 34.6 percent

San Francisco Giants
84-71, 3.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 @ LAD, 3 @ ARI, 3 v. COL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 0.9 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 4:57 pm
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Posted on: September 21, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 4:37 pm
 

On Deck: Yet another big day in wild-card races

OD

By Matt Snyder

As always, follow the game action live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard and keep up with the Playoff Race on our standings page.

Beckett's turn/Hellickson against CC: The Red Sox are just 5-15 in September, but the last time they won on the strength of pitching -- c'mon, we're not counting the 18-9 victory in that category -- it was behind All-Star Josh Beckett (13-5, 2.50). He beat the Rays 4-3 last Friday and is set to start again Wednesday night against the Orioles. Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.81) will go for the O's. The Red Sox now have a 2 1/2 game lead over the Rays in the wild card, due to the Rays' losing to the Yankees Wednesday afternoon, so a win here would be a big step toward securing the final playoff spot. Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET. Back in the Bronx, the Rays will send Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.91) to the mound for the second game of the twin bill. And he gets a tough assignment, too. Not only is he facing the Yankees' offense, but perennial Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.01) is the Yankees' starter. A Red Sox win teamed with a Rays loss would knock the Sox's magic number all the way down to four. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET. Also, we cannot forget about the Angels, who entered Wednesday 3 1/2 games out. They send No. 2 pitcher Dan Haren (15-9, 3.24) to the mound in Toronto against Dustin McGowan (0-0, 7.50). Angels at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET.

NL wild card: The Braves' magic number in the wild-card race is now six over the Cardinals and four over the Giants. All three are in action Wednesday night. Derek Lowe (9-15, 4.94) leads the Braves against the Marlins. Javier Vazquez (11-11, 3.92) will start for Florida, and he's been throwing really well for a while. Since an awful June 11 outing, Vazquez has a 2.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 110 2/3 innings. The Marlins are 11-6 in those 17 starts, though the Braves haven't seen him all season. Braves at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, the Cardinals appear to have a pretty favorable matchup as Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.59) gets the nod. He's had a good September and has a good history against Wednesday night's opponent, the Mets, who are sending Chris Schwinden (0-2, 5.40) to the hill. Mets at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET. As for the Giants, we'll worry about them again when the amount of games back is less than the magic number.

Phillies losing streak: Does this matter? The Phillies have lost four in a row. But even if they lost out and the Brewers won out, they'd tie for the best record in the NL. And the Phillies won the season series, which is the tiebreaker. So the games are completely irrelevant in terms of postseason positioning. Isn't there something to be said for staying sharp, though? By the time the Phillies start Game 1 of the NLDS, it will have been about two weeks since the games mattered. It might behoove them to get a few more wins under their belt and keep that swagger level high. The Vanimal, Vance Worley (11-2, 2.85) will square off against John Lannan (9-13, 3.68) and the Nationals Wednesday. By the way, the Nationals have only finished better than fifth once and that was a fourth-place finish. They're in third right now. So it's a really good bet they really want this game. Nationals at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Mets might change Citi Field dimensions



By Matt Snyder


A common refrain since the Mets moved into Citi Field is that the outfield dimensions cost the team loads of home runs in each given season. Notably, it's been discussed how many homers have turned into doubles for David Wright by several different New York reporters. Only Kauffman Stadium (Royals) and AT&T Park (Giants) have been worse for home runs this season and Citi Field ranked 27th in homers last season.

Two areas in particular that have drawn malign are the height of the left-field wall (why not have it the same height as the center-field wall?) and the well in right field (where it says "Modell's"). It feels like changing those two things would make it a pretty average ballpark for hitters.

Well, changes could be on the horizon, and not-so-small changes at that.

“If we do something, it won’t be subtle,” general manager Sandy Alderson said (NYTimes.com Bats blog), noting that changes are not definite but the Mets are looking hard at several different options.

“We’re not looking necessarily to gain an advantage with respect to home runs versus visitor’s home runs,” Alderson said (NYTimes.com Bats blog). “But at the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spends half its time there, as opposed to a team that comes in for three games, doesn’t really have to alter its approach or think about it too much and leaves.”

I tend to agree with him. All things equal, I'd much rather have my team playing in a league-average ballpark instead of an extreme-hitter or extreme-pitcher park. Not that it definitely determines the fate of your ballclub -- it doesn't -- but if either pitchers or hitters collectively believe they're getting screwed for 81 games, it's hard to keep a positive mentality for the whole season.

'Fan' is short for 'fanatic:' A Yankees fan had the task of serving Red Sox starting pitcher Erik Bedard with child support papers Tuesday and relished in it. He wore a Yankees shirt and bragged on Facebook that he intentionally served Bedard on a day of his start (Big League Stew). Bedard went out and gave up five hits and four runs (though only one was earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Let's hope this fan never accuses any player of lacking professionalism, or else we've got a nice case of hypocrisy working.

Lincecum endorses Kershaw: The NL Cy Young vote is going to be quite competitive, with Clayton Kershaw, Ian Kennedy and some Phillies likely garnering most of the votes. Two-time winner Tim Lincecum believes the winner should be Kershaw. “Just with the numbers he has, he’s leading in a lot of categories, to put up a 20-win season is huge, especially with the team he’s got. He’s done a magnificent job with his year," Lincecum said after losing to Kershaw again (Extra Baggs). The two aces have squared off four times. Lincecum has a 1.24 ERA in those outings, but Kershaw has won all four.

Harwell's glasses are back: In Tuesday's Pepper, we passed along the story that a statue of late, great Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell had been stripped of its glasses. Well, the replacement set of frames is back at home (Detroit Free-Press). Let's hope these stay there for a while.

Aramis' swan song: Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was traded to the Cubs in July of 2003. He played on three playoff teams, in two All-Star games and solidified a position that hadn't been locked down since Ron Santo manned the hot corner. The Cubs have a $16 million option for 2012 on Ramirez and he has repeatedly said he wants to stay, but the feeling apparently isn't mutual. When asked if he believes this is his last run with the Cubs, he replied (Chicago Tribune): "Probably. There's a good chance. I'm a free agent and I don't know what's going to happen. But it looks like I'm going to hit the market."

Movie Night! "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was a huge hit in the 80s, and it includes a scene in Wrigley Field. It's only fitting that Wrigley's first "Movie Night" will be showing the Matthew Broderick film October 1 (Chicago Tribune). Bleacher seats are $10, while lawn seats are $25. That's steep for a movie that hit theaters in 1986, but would the novelty of sitting on Wrigley Field's playing surface be worth it? You make the call.

No ERA title for Cueto: Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was already suspected to be ruled out for the season, and now he's even admitting as much (MLB.com). With the Reds out of the race, this wouldn't normally matter, but Cueto had a shot at leading the league in ERA. His 2.31 mark currently trails only Kershaw (2.27). The problem is that Cueto has only thrown 156 innings. In order to qualify for an ERA crown, a pitcher must have thrown at least one inning for each game his team has played. So once the Reds play game 157, Cueto falls off the ERA standings.

Rockies love Tracy, kind of: Rockies manager Jim Tracy is signed through 2012 and his job is safe at least through the length of the contract. "Jim is signed through next year, and we'd love to have him be manager here for much longer than that. But I have gone into the last year of my contract here more than you could imagine," general manager Dan O'Dowd told The Denver Post. So that sounds good, right? Well, depends upon the point of view. He's not offering a contract extension, and you'll notice the comment about going into the last year of a contract. So it sounds like O'Dowd likes Tracy for now, but he's giving himself a chance to change his mind by the end of next year. And he has every right to do that.

Watch those Nats: If you relish in the failures of the Nationals, you better enjoy it while you can. I've preached all season that the proverbial corner would be turned soon, with a great young base of talent and lots of money available for free agents. Speaking of which, expect the Nats to be hot after All-Star starting pitcher C.J. Wilson -- who is a free agent after this season -- this coming offseason (MLB.com via Twitter).

Saito can't get healthy: Brewers reliever Takashi Saito has been excellent this season, sporting a 1.90 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Of course, he's only thrown 23 2/3 innings due to a series of injuries. Now he's dealing with a calf injury (MLB.com).

More roadblocks for McCourt: One of the ways embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt plans to get out of his financial mess is to sell the TV rights to Dodgers games for future seasons. Well, Fox holds the Dodgers' TV rights through 2013 and has a problem with McCourt trying to negotiate a deal immediately (LATimes.com).

Johan's progress: Mets' ace Johan Santana continues to work his surgically repaired shoulder back into shape. After throwing a three-inning simulated game Saturday, he's now slated for two instructional league games (Oct. 1 and Oct. 7). (ESPN New York)

Happy Anniversary: On this day 15 years ago, Vladimir Guerrero hit his first career home run (Hardball Times). He now has 449.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 1:04 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 1:06 am
 

Playoff race: Giants slip in wild card chase



By Evan Brunell

In the AL wild card chase, both the Rays and Red Sox lost, but Tampa Bay ended up losing ground in playoff odds because there is now one less game for the Rays to catch Boston.

A similar story evolved Tuesday night in the NL, except the two teams battling for the wild card both won. The Braves have been dropping like flies lately, frittering away a 10 1/2 game lead on August 25 and losing 12 of their last 18 before emerging victorious against the Marlins.

"Tonight was a big game," Braves catcher Brian McCann told the Associated Press. "There are always teams fighting for that playoff spot; that's why this time of year is the best time in sports. We sit at the top of the wild card. We've just got to continue to win games."

The Cardinals have to continue winning games too, if they hope to overtake Atlanta. Due to both teams winning, the Cards didn't gain any ground beyond the 2 1/2 game deficit entering the day, but with one less game to stun the Braves by taking the wild card, their chances took a hit. The Cards would seem to have an edge in their remaining schedule, but the Braves will be catching the Phillies in postseason preparation mode, so that could work in Atlanta's favor.

Meanwhile, the Giants' eight-game winning streak was snapped, which all but slams the door shut on their late bid for the wild card.

Atlanta Braves
88-67
Remaining schedule: 1 @ FLA, 3 @ WAS, 3 v. PHI
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 80 percent

St. Louis Cardinals
85-69, 2.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 2 v. NYM, 3 v. CHC, 3 @ HOU
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 17.9 percent

San Francisco Giants
83-71, 4.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 2 @ LAD, 3 @ ARI, 3 v. COL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 1.8 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Alex Gonzalez (2) is met by Jason Heyward, right, after hitting a solo home run in the second inning during a baseball game against the Florida Marlins in Miami, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com