Tag:White Sox
Posted on: September 21, 2011 4:57 pm
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Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:16 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:57 pm
 

Who should win the Gold Glove in the AL?

Suzuki

By Evan Brunell

As C. Trent Rosecrans explained when selecting the most-deserving players to win the NL Gold Glove, it's one of baseball's most difficult awards to give out.

An award that should specifically celebrate the aspect of defense in baseball is instead largely given to those who are considered good defenders, but who reign supreme in popularity and offense. With managers and players voting on the award, you sometimes see some strange occurrences -- such as Rafael Palmeiro winning a Gold Glove in 1999, when he played just 28 games at first base while functioning as a DH.

Here, though, defense rules and offense drools. Let's take a look at some of the best defenders the game has to offer...

Catcher: Matt Wieters, Orioles
-- Wieters doesn't have fantastic range, but he has plenty. Combine that with great hands that have led to a .995 fielding percentage and just one passed ball all season, and it's easy to see why the Oriole receives the nod for the award. Also, runners fear Wieters' arm -- he's only allowed 56 stolen bases all season, while the next-lowest total among catchers who qualify for the batting title is J.P. Arencibia's 77, achieved in 10 less starts. Oh, and Wieters has nabbed 32 runners for a caught-stealing rate of 36 percent, a high percentage for a catcher.

Others considered: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, Jeff Mathis

First base: Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- What Texiera has over his competition is the ability to do everything a regular first baseman is asked to do -- except very well. He brings the complete package to the table, showing an uncanny ability to scoop balls out of the dirt and possessing enough speed and quickness to  make plays out of his zone. No matter what defensive aspect you bring up, Teixeira is among the elite, both in the eyes of scouts and in defensive statistics.

Others considered: Adrian Gonzalez, Casey Kotchman, Mark Trumbo

Second base: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- Pedroia's fielding has been a major boon to his overall value this season. His numbers at the keystone position are what has vaulted him into the fringes of the MVP race and he dominates the game in all facets fielding. Range, plays out of the zone, total balls handled, errors ... no matter what you throw at Pedroia, he's going to go all out to get to the ball and make the play, which happens more often than not.

Others considered: Howie Kendrick, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers -- Beltre somehow only has two Gold Gloves despite a career of success. That success continues in 2011 in Texas, as Beltre has tremendous range compared with soft hands. Evan Longoria is a fantastic defender as well, but in the AL there simply is no comparison to Beltre. With 11 errors, Beltre is on pace to post his lowest error total since 2004, when he had 10.

Others considered: Alberto Callaspo, Evan Longoria, Brent Morel

Shortstop: Brendan Ryan, Mariners -- There's some pretty good competition at shortstop for best defender, but Ryan takes home the honors, showing the junior circuit how it's done in his first season in the AL. Ryan has an impeccable reputation on defense and did nothing to sully that reputation in Seattle. Elvis Andrus and Alcides Escobar, also in his first year in the AL, gave Ryan a run for his money and is also deserving of this award. Only one can win it, though.

Others considered: Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar, Alexi Ramirez

Left field: Brett Gardner, Yankees -- Was there any doubt? Gardner absolutely blows away the competition in left field. His prowess is so remarkable, words can't describe it. Luckily, there's a graphic drawn of his amazing range compared to the average left fielder, which you can view right here. There really isn't another left fielder that comes close, not even perennial Gold Glover Carl Crawford, who has seen his defensive numbers suffer due to the Green Monster. As advanced as metrics are these days, the Green Monster still fouls up the data, but Gardner is too far ahead of the pack that even adjusting for the Monster would still leave Gardner the clear victor.

Others considered: Alex Gordon, Vernon Wells

Center field: Austin Jackson, Tigers -- Like shortstop, center field is littered with strong defenders. That isn't a surprise, given the emphasis placed on both positions being strong defensively. Jackson has made himself at home in Comerica Park's spacious outfield, running down 114 balls outside of his zone. That's an astronomical number, and Jackson blends it with a strong overall game, even if his arm could be stronger.

Others considered: Peter Bourjos, Franklin Gutierrez, Jacoby Ellsbury

Right field: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners -- Ichiro Suzuki simply does it all, with strong talent across the board. He knows where to go when the ball comes off the bat, rarely out of position. While Suzuki is 37, he still has enough speed to cover the ground required of him and continues to flash a strong arm, even if runners quit running on him 10 years ago.

Others considered: David DeJesus, Jeff Francouer, Torii Hunter, Nick Swisher

Pitcher: Mark Buerhle, White Sox

Buehrle has been considered the class of fielding pitchers since Greg Maddux retired and is working on two straight Gold Gloves. Buerhle's claim to fame on defense comes from this play on Opening Day 2010, which was the best fielding play of the entire season. As a left-hander he adds that much more value on defense with the ability to hold runners closer to first base, limiting steals.

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




Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:22 am
 

Pepper: Harwell statue vandalized



By Matt Snyder


Evidently nothing is sacred to the masses.

A statue of late, legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell outside Comerica Park in Detroit was vandalized recently. His likeness is now without glasses, and it appears someone needed to use a crowbar in order to pry the glasses off the statue. The Tigers are going to have new glasses put on the statue, but that doesn't mean they can prevent some dregs of society from taking them away again.

"We're going to attach them as strongly as possible," says Omri Amrany of the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Fort Sheridan, Ill. (Detroit News), "but if somebody has a crowbar and a little persuasion, you cannot keep the glasses on anybody. Anything that can break a car can break a statue."

I wish I could say I was surprised to read this, but I wasn't. Going into some tirade about society's ills would be misplaced, though, because one bad egg doesn't mean everyone is sick. It's just amazing the kind of things that some of these losers think are cool. What are you possibly going to do with some bronze glasses? Get a life.

Must-read story: Earlier this season, Marlins pitcher Chris Hatcher gave a ball to the son of a U.S. soldier who was about to go back out to Kuwait. Hatcher just received a neatly-folded American flag in the mail from the soldier and plans to proudly display it at his home. The entire story -- at Fish Tank blog -- is definitely worth a read.

Favorites for Prince: Jon Heyman of SI.com runs down a list of who he believes will be the favorites to land Prince Fielder in free agency this coming offseason. Here is the list, in order of likelihood (according to Heyman): 1. Orioles, 2. Cubs, 3. Rangers, 4. Nationals, 5. Dodgers, 6. Brewers, 7. Mariners, 8. Cardinals, 9. Marlins.

Yankees, Red Sox most popular: Judging simply from the number of Facebook "likes," the Yankees and Red Sox have the most fans. Yes, I know, this is shocking. The Cubs check in at No. 3, followed by the Giants, Phillies and Braves (Biz of Baseball).

Hanson's chance: Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson hasn't started since August 6, but there's a chance he'll get one more outing this season. He'll throw in an instructional league game Friday, likely around 65 pitches, and if there are no setbacks, the Braves might start him on the final game of the regular season. One caveat, though, is that if a playoff berth is on the line, the Braves will start Tim Hudson, not Hanson (AJC.com). Still, this is good news for the Braves in terms of possibly having Hanson back for the playoffs -- should they hold on.

Puma's honesty: You ever hear players saying it's not all about the money? Yeah, at least 95 percent of them are lying. Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman is telling the truth now, though, as his negotiations with the Cardinals have slowed. "It's always about money," Berkman said (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). "No matter what people say, it's always about the money."

Someone call "People" magazine: Brad Pitt has a new love. Sorry Angelina. Pitt feels "a little bit romantic about the A's," after starring in "Moneyball" and meeting Billy Beane. (SFGate.com)

Papi's pitch: The Red Sox has serious depth issues in the starting rotation due to injuries and John Lackey's underperformance. Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves has a 2.82 ERA in 102 innings this season and is pitching very well out of the bullpen. At least one Red Sox player believes this is out of whack. "To be honest with you, the way things are going, he should be starting," David Ortiz said (MLB.com). "Simple as that. Give it a shot."

White Sox have failed: According to first baseman Paul Konerko, it's playoffs-or-bust every single season for the White Sox. So 2011 is "a failure." (Chicago Tribune)

Manuel's bat: Indians slugger Jim Thome was recently presented with a game-used Charlie Manuel bat. Manuel mentored Thome all the way back in the minors in 1990 and then managed him on the 2005 Phillies. In fact, Manuel is the one who urged Thome to use his famous bat point (toward the pitcher) as a timing mechanism. "It's pretty awesome," Thome said of Manuel's bat (MLB.com). "It's going in my office at home."

Bauer, Cole updates: Former college teammates (UCLA) Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole were two of the top three picks in the 2011 MLB Draft. Cole went first overall to the Pirates while Bauer went third to the D-Backs. Cole will likely pitch in the Arizona Fall League, his first competitive pitching since the draft (MLB.com). Bauer has gotten some work in at the Double-A level, but he's been knocked around a bit (7.56 ERA in four starts), so he won't make the bigs this season, as had previously been rumored (MLB.com). Expect both to challenge for rotation spots at some point next season.

New closer: The Orioles have obviously changed closers from Kevin Gregg to Jim Johnson, even though manager Buck Showalter hasn't said so. Johnson has five saves in September to Gregg's one. (Orioles Insider)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 10:32 am
 

Pepper: Crawford apologizes to Red Sox fans



By Matt Snyder


With the Rays climbing to within two games of the Red Sox in the AL wild-card race, it's going to be a fun final two weeks for baseball fans. Some interesting perspective on the drama comes from current Red Sox and former Rays' left fielder Carl Crawford.

Crawford played nine seasons and 1,253 regular-season games for the Rays. He's easily the best player in the history of the young franchise at this point, but he walked this past offseason for a seven-year, $142 million deal and signed with the Red Sox. And he's now having the worst season of his career, from an individual standpoint.

In a diary entry for ESPN.com, Crawford notes that hears the boos from "haters" when the Red Sox visit Tampa Bay and that those fans need to realize he's going to be coming back for six more years. Two more entries of note:

"If Tampa makes a miracle comeback and takes the wild card from us, I will be devastated. I definitely wouldn't want to lose to those guys and watch them get into the playoffs while we go home. That would just be devastating to me."

And ...

"I want to end the diary saying something to the fans of Boston. I just want to say I'm sorry for the year I've had. You guys have been really supportive and I appreciate that. Hopefully when we get into these playoffs, I can be the real Carl Crawford that I know I am. We'll see."

I love seeing that kind of accountability from someone who could easily just blow everyone off and count his millions.

Ironman: Speaking of the Rays, Johnny Damon has now tied Pete Rose and Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Hank Aaron with an impressive streak. Damon has now played in at least 140 games in 16 different seasons, making it a four-way tie atop the all-time record book (TampaBay.com). Does anyone doubt Damon can do it again next year and set the record? I sure don't.

More from Damon: This is funny, and true. Damon points out that Red Sox fans have to root for the Yankees now. “They’re going to have to root for them if they want a chance at the postseason,” Damon said (BostonHerald.com). “They couldn’t root for me when I played in New York. Now they have to root for the whole team.” Man, how much are Yankees fans relishing this?

Happy Birthday: Hall of Famer Joe Morgan turns 68 Monday (Hardball Times). The two-time MVP is widely considered the best second baseman to ever play the game (and was also a broadcaster for years, but we'll leave that alone, being his birthday and all ... )

While we're here: Speaking of Joe, he just led the world's largest chicken dance. Check it out (via Big League Stew):



Sigh: Tigers manager Jim Leyland says he isn't an "on-base percentage guy." (MLB.com) Look, Leyland knows a lot more about baseball than I do, which is quite an obvious fact. But that doesn't mean he can't be wrong about certain things. I just don't understand what it is with the so-called "old-school mentality" that prevents people from grasping that OBP is the percentage of times batters don't make an out. I don't get how you can not be an OBP guy. You go to the plate with a bat. The main object is to not make an out. It's very, very simple. Leyland, thankfully, doesn't say he likes batting average, but instead slugging. Slugging percentage is much more important than average, but OBP is much more important. Think about it. Even if you're just churning out singles and walks over and over, you're still scoring runs. Slugging is very important, too, which is why OPS has gotten more and more run in recent years.

Humbled Ozzie: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen recently made a trip to the Negro Baseball League Museum in Kansas City and came away with a renewed appreciation for everything he has. "It’s so different, and sometimes you shake your head at what these guys went through all this stuff for baseball to be better now than then," he said (Chicago Tribune).

Shoot him up: Phillies slugging first baseman Ryan Howard has bursitis in his left ankle, and he'll have a cortisone shot to help him deal with the issue the rest of the season. (MLB.com)

Johan 'felt good:' Mets ace Johan Santana threw a three-inning simulated game Sunday and he "felt good." (ESPN New York)

Johnson wants Wang back: Chien-Ming Wang has been a bit inconsistent in his return to the hill this season, but he's shown flashes of being solid -- like in his quality-start win Sunday. It will be tough to squeeze into the Nationals' rotation next season, especially if they land a free agent like C.J. Wilson, but current Nats manager Davey Johnson says he'd bring Wang back. "As far as I'm concerned, he's a keeper," Johnson said (MASN Sports).

Don't rush: Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa underwent Tommy John surgery June 3, but he's looking to be back by opening day of next season. That wouldn't be unheard of, but it would be just 10 months after a procedure which typically has a 10-14 month recovery period. So it would certainly be a quick recovery. Jim Tracy, his manager, wants De La Rosa to be patient. “I told him (De La Rosa) about Dr. Jobe and the importance of following the program and don’t try to deviate,’’ said Tracy (DenverPost.com). “Don’t try to speed it up. If you do that and you follow the program and you don’t try to speed it up, you’ll feel like you have a bionic arm. Because it will completely heal and you’ll basically have a brand new elbow.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 18, 2011 1:35 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Chipper gets the Mets again

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chipper Jones, Braves: For the 39th time in his career, Jones knocked in the go-ahead run against the Mets. His two-out RBI single drove in the game's only run as Atlanta's Tim Hudson and New York's R.A. Dickey engaged in a fantastic pitcher's duel. Hudson struck out 10, while Dickey allowed just three hits, two to Jones. It was also Jones' 153rd RBI against the Mets, only Willie Stargell (182) and Mike Schmidt (162) have driven in more against New York. Only Stargell has driven in more go-ahead runs against the Mets (40).

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: After missing six games with a sprained left thumb, A-Rod returned to the Yankees lineup and made an immediate impact, collecting two hits, including his 16th homer of the season, a three-run shot off Henderson Alvarez to pull the Yankees to within a run of the Blue Jays in the sixth inning. It was the 629th homer of Rodriguez's career, putting him one behind former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all-time list.

Mike Moustakas, Royals: There were plenty of raised eyebrows when the Royals' third baseman struggled in his first two months in the big leagues. He was hitting just .182/.237/.227 in his first 53 games in Kansas City with just one home run. That .182 batting average after an 0-for-4 night on Aug. 16 against the Yankees was a low point. The next night he went 3 for 3 against the Yankees and since then he's hitting .385/.418/.548, raising his season line to .252/.301/.338. Saturday he went 3 for 5 with his third homer in four days, as the Royals picked up their seventh straight win.


Ervin Santana, Angels: In what may have been the Angels' last shot at the postseason, the right-hander gave up two homers in a five-run first in Baltimore. Los Angeles has now lost four of its last six games, while the Rangers won in Seattle. Santana retired just two of the first nine batters he faced, allowing a two-run homer to J.J. Hardy and a three-run homer by Mark Reynolds. He allowed just one more hit in his final six innings of work, but the damage was already done.

Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: St. Louis had a chance to get out of a sticky situation in the eighth inning, trailing by two, but with bases loaded and two outs, Octavio Dotel got Hunter Pence to ground into what appeared to be an easy play to end the inning. Furcal looked first at second for a force but couldn't get a hustling Chase Utley. Furcal had to double pump and try to get Pence at first, but with Pence running down the line, the Phillies outfielder was safe, scoring a run and leaving the bases loaded. The next batter, Raul Ibanez, hit a grand slam, making a close game a laugher. St. Louis had scored two in the eighth to pull within a run of the Phillies but then gave up six runs in the bottom half of the inning, in no small part to Furcal's mistake.

Robinson Cano, Yankees: It didn't end up hurting the Yankees, but Cano did cost the team a run in the fourth inning with a base running gaffe. Cano was on second and Mark Teixeira was on third with one out when Nick Swisher hit a liner into center. Cano assumed it would drop, while Teixeira was waiting to see what happened. Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus ran it down and as Teixeira went back to third to tag up, Cano raced around him for the inning's third out.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:59 am
 

Vizquel hopes to play in 2012

Omar VizquelBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Omar Vizquel will turn 45 next April and he hopes he's still playing in the big leagues.

"I would love to have an opportunity to play another year," Vizquel told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm not expecting to play every day but I think I have the ability to play."

Vizquel has played in 57 games for the White Sox this season, starting 19 games at third base, 14 at second base and eight at shortstop. He's also served as the team's DH and played first base in one game.

An 11-time Gold Glove winner, Vizquel has one error this season. It came at second base. Overall, he's hit .245/.282/.294 without a home run and eight RBI. He is a career .272/.337/.353 hitter and 161 hits shy of 3,000 -- but he has just 182 over the last three full seasons.

"I feel 35," Vizquel told the newspaper. "I look at players on this team who are around that age or less. You look at them playing … the body language is not what you like to see. I don't think I have that kind of body language and I don't like to show it even if I'm tired. I feel great. I still have the passion, still have the legs."

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 8:43 pm
 

Is Ozzie on his way out of Chicago?

Ozzie GuillenBy C. Trent Rosecrans

It's beginning to look more and more like the Ozzie Guillen era with the White Sox is coming to an end.

Not only did FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal cite a "source with knowledge of Guillen's thinking" as saying there was only a 10 percent probability that Guillen would return in 2012, there was something more telling from Guillen's own mouth, something so shocking that it can only mean he's looking to leave: support of White Sox general manager Kenny Williams.

Before Chicago's game in Kansas City, Guillen told reporters Williams shouldn't lose his job (which has to mean he doesn't want to be back, right?)

"He did a good job. One thing about it -- all the people in Chicago, they're going to blame Kenny," Guillen said (via the Chicago Tribune). "I remember when we made this club, (everybody) was excited. Don't turn your back on the man. Don't do that. I took the blame yesterday. I think they gave me a good club to manage it. We don't play well? Yes, and we have to [take the] blame. Who? Pitchers, catchers, hitters. No, no. Blame the team, but I'm the one running this club. But don't turn on Kenny. People in Chicago, don't do that."

Rosenthal reported Guillen and Williams' relationship was "unsalvageable," according to the same source. So could his pleas for the White Sox to keep Williams mean that if there's a decision between him or his G.M., he wants Williams to stay and himself out -- and on to Florida?

Guillen said his team had "lost its fight" following Wednesday's loss and it looks like maybe he has too.

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:17 am
 

Pepper: Finally a worthwhile 'Moneyball myth'



By Matt Snyder


In the past few days, "Moneyball" reviews have been all over the Internet, as advanced screenings are currently taking place. It's a veritable mixed bag. Some reviews have the movie an Oscar contender, others tearing it to shreds, while most are in between. I haven't seen the movie yet, but one area where people aggravate me already is bemoaning how, basically, it's not a documentary. Simply put: It's a movie. Of course it's going to take liberties and be just as much fiction as fact. It says "based on a true story," not "true story." I'm sorry is Jonah Hill doesn't even come close to physically resembling Paul DePodesta, for example. Hollywood doesn't have to cast clones.

Anyway, there have been critics for years of the book. You'll often hear someone say something like "Moneyball doesn't work" or try to explain the "myth of Moneyball." Sometimes it almost seems like the person is taking great pride is taking down some huge establishment.

One of the loudest complaints is that the A's had a trio of aces in the pitching staff, so it wasn't that hard to make the team around them good. It's fair, but it discounts the shift in offensive philosophy. But it's understandable. And it's not like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez -- the anchors of the 2002 offense -- weren't stars. They were.

But this all still ignores the massive disadvantage in payroll the A's had against the likes of the Yankees -- and the 2002 A's won 103 games.

On that front, I finally saw a "myth" about Beane's 2002 ballclub that was worthwhile and made sense -- thanks to Jeff Fletcher at BayBridgeBaseball.com. Yes, that payroll was really low. But a lot of it had to do with how baseball's system is set up. Namely, because of young players being under club control for years and then arbitration-eligible for a few more years, there was some pretty damn good talent making relatively low salaries in '02.

Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito combined to go 57-21 with a 3.05 ERA. Zito won the Cy Young. The three aces made $1.97 million combined. For comparison's sake, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox finished second in Cy Young voting that year and he made $14 million.

There were several other young players that made far less money than players they were outperforming and that happens every year. The A's just happened to have a handful of them. So I guess I've finally found a "Moneyball myth" I support.

Mo in center? Mariano Rivera has a simple request of manager Joe Girardi. Before he retires, Rivera would like to get a shot in center field. Rivera reportedly claims he's a "viable" center fielder and wants to play a game there (a whole game?). Yeah, that ain't happening. But Girardi has said he'd consider putting him out there for one batter in a meaningless game. Oh, and one more stipulation: “[It would be against] a guy who hits ground balls or strikes out a lot,” Girardi said (NYTimes.com).

GM already in place? It would seem that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is doing his hiring backwards. About a week and a half ago I bemoaned Ricketts' giving a contract extension to his player personnel director before hiring a general manager. Well, now Ricketts is set to give a similar extension to scouting director Tim Wilkin (SunTimes.com). Yes, outgoing GM Jim Hendry loved both of these members of his staff, but he's gone now. Is it possible Ricketts already has an agreement behind closed doors with his next GM, which makes these extensions OK? If not, it seems like he's severely limiting himself in his GM search. Think about it this way. If you started a business, would you hire all the mid-level employees before your CEO? Or would you hire your dream CEO and then work with him on hiring the underlings?

Great family story: The Marlins recently promoted prospect Matt Dominguez for his major-league debut. His father is a copy editor for the Los Angeles Times, and he wrote a story about the experience of seeing his son play in the bigs. (LATimes.com)

Jocketty staying put: Just as I noted in Wednesday's Pepper, the rumor that the Cubs were going to grab GM Walt Jocketty, manager Tony La Russa and first baseman Albert Pujols doesn't have much merit. Jocketty isn't going anywhere (Cincinnati.com).

Poor Dunn: This is interesting. Baseball-Reference's blog ran two posts that kind of sum up how futile White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn's season has been. He's hitting .162 with 160 strikeouts. If he gathers a few more at-bats, there's a chance he ends up with more strikeouts than his batting average points. That has only happened one time in history when a hitter got more than 35 at-bats. And it was last season: Mark Reynolds. The same blog also compiled a list of the worst full-time players of the last 50 years, and Dunn checks in at 20th.

Still chugging: Rockies starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, 36, is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since being picked up by the Rockies this season, and he wants to come back for them in 2012 (DenverPost.com). Remember, he was on the verge of retiring before the Rockies grabbed him.

Hanson improving: Injured Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson threw a 44-pitch side session Wednesday and felt fine. Another big step comes Thursday, as he'll see how his hampered throwing shoulder reacts (MLB.com). If anything big happens, we'll certainly be updating with a stand-alone post on Eye On Baseball. Hanson could be the difference between a first-round exit or going deep in the playoffs for the Braves.

Gracious Votto: Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has emerged as an elite baseball player and he says that he owes "90 percent" of his success to his old coach back in Canada (Fox Sports Ohio). This isn't surprising. Votto is one of the most humble and classy players in baseball.

Happy Anniversary: Since 1980, the following All-Stars made their respective major-league debuts on September 15: Fernando Valenzuela (1980), Randy Johnson (1989), Cliff Lee (2002) and Rickie Weeks (2003). (Hardball Times)

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