Tag:Prince Fielder
Posted on: September 21, 2011 11:41 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 11:43 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Baltimore Orioles

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Baltimore Orioles
Record: 64-90, 29.5 games back in AL East
Manager: Buck Showalter
Best hitter: Adam Jones -- .283/.324/.466, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 63 R, 25 2B, 11 SB
Best pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie -- 9-17, 4.28 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 128 K, 202 IP

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Orioles haven't been in playoff contention since 1997. Following that season, they finished fourth nine times and third once. They're now headed for their fourth consecutive last-place finish.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Things appeared to be looking up early in the season for the Orioles. They started off 6-1, and this wasn't against pushovers. They swept the Rays, took two of three from the Tigers and then beat the Rangers. Of course, it was too good to be true. They proceeded to lose eight straight. They did battle back to .500 twice and lingered close to .500 until being buried by an awful stretch, when they went 6-23 from June 11-July 15. That would end any hope of breaking through, as the Orioles wouldn't be closer than 20 games in the AL East after July 22.

The Orioles did get younger in trading Derrek Lee, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez, and there were some positive signs. They now have a decent offensive core of catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Mark Reynolds, shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielders Nick Markakis and Adam Jones (any of the four could have been picked as the "best hitter" above). None of those players are older than 28. Of course, none are younger than 25, nor do any appear to be superstar material. On the mound, the Orioles saw enough from rookie Zach Britton to believe he's one of the pieces of the future, but Brian Matusz had a disaster of a season. Jim Johnson is showing himself the answer at closer and Pedro Strop -- who was acquired from the Rangers in the Gonzalez deal -- is throwing the ball very well in front of him.

2012 AUDIT

The outlook would be a lot more sunny in a different division. The fact of the matter is that the Orioles are set up to improve their on-field product, but probably not be drastic enough to translate into more wins next season -- because the AL East is so good. The Yankees, Red Sox or Rays don't appear to be getting much worse any time soon and the Blue Jays are pretty well set up to take some significant steps forward. That means that even if the Orioles get better, they're still behind the 8-ball, so to speak.

One area where they can improve is from simple progression from all the young players. Matusz can't possibly be worse, so long as he stays mentally balanced, healthy and works hard in the offseason. Tommy Hunter has good enough stuff to be a part of the rotation, too, just as Jake Arrieta does. Chris Tillman is still too young to give up on. Shifting to the position players: Brian Roberts will still only be 34 and should be healthy, so there's hope he comes back with a productive season. Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold are fine pieces of a supporting cast and we already mentioned the offensive core. Also of note: Wieters is becoming a great defensive catcher. That matters.

FREE AGENTS

Cesar Izturis, SS
Vladimir Guerrero, DH

OFFSEASON FOCUS

They need to quit trying to make a patchwork lineup (Lee, Guerrero) for the short-term and instead use some money looking long-term. You aren't competing in the AL East by filling holes with washed-up vets. Here are five big things I'd do to improve the Orioles with the eyes on the future.
  • Sign Prince Fielder. Whatever it takes. I mentioned above the offensive core is good, but lacking a centerpiece. Prince ties it all together. The top seven in the lineup would go something like: Roberts, Markakis, Fielder, Jones, Hardy, Reynolds, Wieters. That looks pretty good, no? Fielder might not want to head to the worst team in the AL East, but money talks. Blow him away. Worried about his durability due to weight? He's only 27 and hasn't played less than 157 games in a season until this year (and he's at 155 and primed to surpass that mark again). He just doesn't miss games. After the big splash signing, try to keep everything else in-house and see what other holes definitely need to be filled after '12.
  • Move Mark Reynolds to DH permanently. He's an absolute butcher at third, but his power and on-base abilities are helpful to the offense.
  • Let Josh Bell and Chris Davis compete for the third base job. Both players have upside, so the Orioles could strike gold here and make the lineup even stronger.
  • Trade Jeremy Guthrie. He's going to be 33 next season and -- as long as you can ignore the high-loss totals his Orioles have saddled him with -- isn't a bad pitcher. He could give a contender 200 decent innings as their fifth starter. Thus, he'll get something like a mid-level prospect back, but the main reason is the Orioles need to see what they have by giving extended looks to the young pitchers who have already seen time in the bigs. Go into the season with a rotation of Britton, Matusz, Hunter, Arrieta and Tillman and give it an extended look. By midseason, if one or two aren't working out, it's time to dip into the minors for others. If three or four aren't working out, more drastic measures will have to be taken in the offseason.
  • Stick with the Strop-Johnson duo at the end of games. There's no reason to go out and grab another retread like Kevin Gregg again. Trade Gregg if they could, but it's doubtful much comes back. Whatever, let him pitch in non-save situations.
This wouldn't make them a contender in 2012, but they'd be better and would have the chance to evaluate where everything stands with the young players after the 2012 season. You have to take babysteps to get back to respectability after finishing fifth four straight times.

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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)

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Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:43 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 9:02 am
 

Fielder: 'Probably last year' in Milwaukee

Fielder

By Evan Brunell

Prince Fielder admits that 2011 is "probably the last year" in Milwaukee to TBS in a feature for the playoffs according to SI.com, sparking a controversy just before the postseason that the team doesn't need.

"I'm signed for this year, but being real about it, it is probably the last year," Fielder admitted to announcer Brian Anderson. "It's been great [to play with Ryan Braun], unfortunately, this is probably the last year of the one-two punch... But I think it's been good, [five] years, him and me. Hopefully, we can go out with a blast."

There's no question Fielder knows what he's doing with the bat: 222 home runs from 2006 to date speaks to that, as well as a powerful .294/.407/.543 line on the season with 32 home runs and 109 RBI in a league-leading 149 games. But he doesn't know what he's doing if he thought it was a good idea to candidly address his prospects of staying in Milwaukee, especially as the Brew Crew wraps up a successful season and heads into the playoffs with the NL Central crown.

While Fielder is only saying what many have guessed at for a while, he doesn't need to be packing his house up before his tenure with the Brewers is done. The team needs to focus on October, not on what happens after October. It's not Fielder's fault that he was posed the question -- one he's been asked all season -- but did he really need to answer candidly at this point? It's only going to take the focus of the team off of the postseason and onto Fielder.

"This game we play is a job, it's a profession," Braun, who now has to deal with the story, told Anderson. "Sometimes I think we lose sight of that which is a good thing. But there's always a business side. Everybody has to do what is in their best interest. The best interest of their family. Guys earn a right to become free agents. You never know what's going to happen when you get there. But for him, I couldn't see why every team in baseball wouldn't want him on their team. Certainly, he will get some huge offers in the offseason. So for us right now, we are just trying to enjoy while we're together, enjoy the fact that he's still a member of the Milwaukee Brewers and accomplish as much as we can this year."

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Rain could cost Kemp HR, RBI titles

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The second game of Thursday's doubleheader in Washington has been postponed -- well, actually canceled. The game will only be made up if it's necessary, and it won't be.

The Nationals, 26.5 games behind the Phillies in the National League East and are already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Dodgers are 70-72, 11.5 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West, but still have an elimination number of 9, so they still have a chance, but not a great one.

So what does it matter if the Dodgers and Nationals play 161 games instead of 162? Not much to either team, but it could mean something to Matt Kemp. The Dodgers' center fielder probably won't win the triple crown -- his 1-for-5 performance earlier on Thursday dropped his average to .318, well below Jose Reyes (.336 after a pinch-hit single in Game 1 against Atlanta on Thursday) and Ryan Braun (.332 before Thursday's game), but still good for third in the race for the batting title. Even without the batting title, he's still very much in the race for the home run and RBI titles. Kemp has 32 homers, tied for third in the National League. He's two homers behind Albert Pujols and one behind second-place Dan Uggla. His 107 RBI is third in the league, just one behind Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard. While the average could benefit from one less game, it's the counting stats that hurt -- at this time of the year and with margins as close as they are in those two races, the rain on the East Coast this week could cost Kemp one of the only titles the Dodgers have a shot at winning.

If Kemp finishes a homer shy of the title or an RBI short, tonight may have been the difference. 

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Posted on: August 31, 2011 1:55 pm
 

September Storylines: Kemp's season overshadowed

Matt KempBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Dodgers may have the best player in the National League, and yet he's been overshadowed by the team's ownership story and even his own teammate, Andre Ethier who has a long hitting streak and a mysterious injury that have garnered headlines. Heck, the biggest story of the year involving Los Angeles' Matt Kemp may be better known for his breakup with his girlfriend last offseason than his breakout on the field this season.

Yep, Matt Kemp may be the best player in the National League, and Dodgerland is still talking about the McCourts, Ethier's possibly injury and the return of their broadcast team. Meanwhile, Matt Kemp leads all big leaguers in Wins Above Replacement players at 8.0 (according to Baseball-Reference.com -- FanGraphs.com has him sixth overall and second in the National League at 6.6).

If advanced metrics aren't your thing, he's hitting .321/.396/.573 with 31 home runs and 101 RBI -- numbers that put him in the running for the triple crown. (He's also tied for second in the NL in stolen bases with 35, 12 behind the Braves' Michael Bourn.)

September Storylines
    • A look at the postseason races

Last year it was Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez challenging for the triple crown, this year Kemp has the best shot. Here's a look at his numbers, and chances.

Batting average: Kemp's currently hitting .321, good for fourth in the National League behind Jose Reyes (.335), Ryan Braun (.331) and Votto (.325) -- with David Murphy (.320) hot on his heels. A career .292 hitter, this is his best batting average since 2007, when he hit .342 in 98 games (and 311 plate appearances) as a 22-year-old. This is the best year of the 26-year-old's career, so it's not like past performance will predict production, but he has tailed off in the last month of the season in his career. Kemp's hit .264/.310/.426 in September and October in his career, while hitting .297/.354/.502 in the other months (although those numbers do include this season's production). 

Home runs: Kemp's tied for the National League lead with Mike Stanton and Pujols with 31 homers, with Lance Berkman and Dan Uggla just one homer behind, each with 30. Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder both have 29 homers, while Troy Tulowitzki and Jay Bruce each have 28 homers -- meaning the race is wide open. 

The Dodgers have 10 home games remaining on their schedule and 17 road games, which would appear to help Kemp who has 16 of his 31 homers on the road this season in fewer games, hitting a homer every 17.3 plate appearances on the road and one every 19.4 plate appearances at Dodger Stadium. However, the stadiums left on the Dodgers' tour of the National League haven't been kind to Kemp -- he has just three homers in the parks left on the team's travel schedule, with two of those coming at Arizona's Chase Field. He hasn't homered in either San Francisco's AT&T Park or San Diego's Petco Park, despite playing six games in both stadiums this season. Kemp has just two homers in San Francisco in his career (166 plate appearances) and three in San Diego (139 plate appearances). Overall, he's managed just one homer every 40.6 plate appearances in the six parks (Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington, San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona) the Dodgers will play in during September and 15 total, seven of those at Chase Field.

RBI: Kemp enters Wednesday's game with 101 RBI, already tying his career best (2009), and just one behind leaders Howard and Fielder. Tulowitzki is the only other player with more than 90 RBI, with 94 on the season. The RBI stat is dependent on what other players do, and after struggling in July, the Dodgers had one of their best offensive months of the season in August, scoring 127 runs in the month, the most of any month and getting on base at a .322 rate, only just below its .339 OBP in June. That said, that doesn't mean much, since the Dodgers followed their productive June with their worst month of the season in July. Predicting RBI is the ultimate folly, because not only does Kemp have to deliver, so do his teammates. The same thing can be said about the others on the list, as well. 

It'd be silly to predict a triple crown or even guess at a single crown for Kemp with a month to go in the season, but it's certainly worth keeping an eye on -- and gives Dodger fans something to cheer about, something that's not been easy to do in 2011.

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: August 24, 2011 11:25 am
 

Report: Nationals not interested in Fielder

Fielder

By Evan Brunell

Cross out the Nationals as a destination for Prince Fielder, a source in the Nationals organization tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

It's not every day that a team would turn down Fielder, but the Nationals have two first basemen under contract -- Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse. LaRoche is done for the year due to injury, but hit a disappointing .172/.288/.258 in 43 games before going down. All due respect to LaRoche, but the $8 million on his 2012 contract shouldn't preclude Washington from going after Fielder as it would be a clear upgrade. No, where the catch comes is Morse, who is currently the first baseman in LaRoche's absence.

After tantalizing Washington the last two years with his potential to break out, the 29-year-old has done so in style with a .317/.373/.550 mark this season with 21 taters in 440 plate appearances. By the time the season ends, he will have doubled (or come close to it) his previous career high in plate appearances. Morse will move back to left field to make room for LaRoche, and he's the real reason why the Nats may not need to go after Fielder. If LaRoche fails, the team simply moves Morse to first base.

But why not just keep Morse in left permanently and sign Fielder? If it's the best upgrade the team can make, it's one that it should pursue. Thing is, it may not be the best upgrade the team can make; the depth at first guarantees that. What the Nationals really need are a center fielder and leadoff hitter, which isn't mutually exclusive. Washington had been chasing Denard Span of the Twins, B.J. Upton of the Rays and Michael Bourn of the Braves, formerly of the Astros. However, GM Mike Rizzo balked at the price, so no move was made. Things could change in the offseason, and if and when it does, it will cost a good package of young players. In that case, the Nats may elect to hang onto its draft picks that it would have to cough up in any Fielder signing in order to replenish the system after the trade.

Assuming Washington truly isn't going to go after Fielder (and I don't buy that), it dwindles Fielder's market even lower to the point one has to seriously consider if Fielder could head back to Milwaukee. All but one team currently with a payroll over 100 million (in order from highest to lowest: Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, Mets, Cubs, White Sox, Giants, Twins, Cardinals, Dodgers, Tigers) won't make a run for various reasons. The Cubs could make a go of it, but that would be a bold step for an incoming GM to make for a team that needs a lot more than Fielder to become competitive again. Other than that, the other teams either have financial issues or are blocked at first base. The only team in which Fielder makes sense are the Angels, and as we've seen over the last few years, Los Angeles' decisions when it comes to free agency are curious, and it's no sure thing it will pony up for Fielder.

So, suddenly, Fielder's next-biggest suitors are in a payroll bracket that Milwaukee might be able to contend with. Fielder previously turned down a five-year, $100 million contract to stay in Milwaukee. If that was within Milwaukee's budget, then any eventual deal with Fielder could be right in the Brewers' wheelhouse. Fielder has long been considered a goner for quite some time, but his future in town is far from certain.
 
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Posted on: August 13, 2011 1:21 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Fun homecoming for Wells



By Matt Snyder


Vernon Wells, Angels. Wells was the Blue Jays' first-round pick all the way back in 1997. He first grabbed a cup of coffee in the bigs in 1999 and stuck for good in 2002. He amassed 223 home runs, more than 1,500 hits and an .804 OPS for the Jays. He was traded to the Angels this past offseason. Friday night, Wells returned to Toronto for the first time as an enemy, but the Blue Jays faithful hadn't forgotten him. Wells was greeted with a nice ovation before his first at-bat. He then proceeded to hit his 126th career home run in the Rogers Centre, only this time it hurt the Jays. Wells' new team would go on to win 7-1 and stay two games behind the Rangers in the AL West.

Prince Fielder, Brewers. Going 3-for-4 with a home run wouldn't normally land the big man here. That's what he's paid to do and what he's going to be paid a gigantic amount this offseason to continue to do. But one of his singles Friday is worth noting. In the bottom of the fifth, Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm completely jammed Fielder inside, and the result was what should have been a routine grounder to the shortstop area -- with the shift on, it was third baseman Pedro Alvarez making the play -- but Fielder beat it out. There wasn't even a bobble on the defensive end. He just legged out a single. And the Brewers won for the 14th time in their last 16 games.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles. The shorstop hit two more home runs Friday night, giving him 23 on the season. His career high in homers is 26, which he in 592 at-bats in 2007. He also hit 24 home runs in 2008 ... in 569 at-bats. He has just 343 at-bats so far this season. If Hardy can stay healthy -- which is a big if -- his contract extension earlier this summer by the Orioles was a great decision. He's still just 28 years old.



CC Sabathia, Yankees. For the first time in his career, Sabathia allowed more than three home runs in a game. He actually allowed five in the Yankees 5-1 loss to the Rays. The funny thing is, Sabathia is a such a competitor he still kept the game within striking distance and lasted eight innings. I almost wanted to make him an "up" for such an effort. Then I realized CC himself is probably livid he coughed up five bombs to a team that came in averaging less than one per game.

Giants offense. Matt Cain told reporters after the game he cost his team the game. You know, because he allowed two runs. If a starting pitcher is blaming himself for a loss when he allowed two runs -- against a team that entered the game with a seven-game losing streak, mind you -- that's a problem. Pablo Sandoval told reporters the Giants aren't having any fun right now, too (SFGate.com). Will things suddenly turn around when Carlos Beltran and Nate Schierholtz get healthy? They better, for the Giants sake, or else Arizona is taking the West while the Giants watch from home in October.

The Oakland A's. So Rangers starter C.J. Wilson talks about how much everything in Oakland sucks this week and then he takes the hill Friday night in Oakland. And the A's come out and get their teeth kicked in, 9-1.

And in case you missed it, the biggest clown down of the night was Carlos Zambrano. Click here and here to see why, again, if you missed it.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 12:18 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Ellsbury goes off for six RBI

Uribe

By Evan Brunell


Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Ellsbury slammed a three-run home run that helped propel the Red Sox to victory, but he wasn't done driving in runs despite his career high coming into the game was at three. He doubled that figure to six by adding a sac fly for the game's first run, then contributing to Boston's three-run outburst in he bottom of the eighth to clinch the game by driving a two-run RBI single. The leadoff hitter continues to be red hot with a .321/.377/.522 line and is receiving heavy AL MVP consideration. While he'll have to contend with teammates Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia along with Toronto's Jose Bautista, Ellsbury is certainly deserving of the honor, and BoSox fans serenaded him with "MVP!" chants on Saturday.

Prince Fielder, Brewers: Fielder crushed four RBI in a victory over the Astros. Losses by third-place Pittsburgh and fourth-place Cincinnati left them nine and 9 1/2 back, respectively, of Milwaukee. That leaves St. Louis as the only serious contender for the division title, but the Brewers are rolling now. Fielder went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and adding two walks to push his season line to .300/.416/.562, leaving him in fantastic shape with less than two months to go before the regular season ends and he becomes a free agent. He blasted his 25th home run of the year, tying him for fourth in the NL with Mike Stanton, three behind Lance Berkman for the league lead.

Brandon McCarthy, Athletics: "He was terrific," A's manager Bob Melvin told the Associated Press of McCarthy after the righty fired a five-hitter over eight innings to shut out the Rays in a 8-0 victory. "He's been as consistent a guy as we've had." The former top prospect was dealt from Chicago to Texas, but was never able to deliver on his promise amid injuries. While he still has a shoulder issue that's flared up from time to time, he's sandwiched 16 starts in the year and has a 3.31 ERA to show for it. In five starts since the All-Star Game, he's given up just 10 runs. After limiting Tampa to no walks and five hits, pushing his K/BB on the year to 74/16, it's time to take McCarthy seriously.



Neftali Feliz, Rangers: Feliz gave up three of four runs in a ninth-inning rally for Cleveland, with Texas' own last gasp in the bottom of the frame going for naught, scoring one run en route to a 7-5 loss. Feliz has been shaky all season, and the Rangers importing two top setup men spoke volumes about how secure the brass feels the late innings are down south. Feliz was able to register two outs, but didn't strike out anyone en route to giving up three hits and three earned runs, getting into trouble immediately in the inning and being gifted an out in the form of a sacrifice bunt that eventually led to the inning's first run. Feliz has a 3.64 ERA, but he's pitched worse than that, and the Rangers have to be looking forward to getting him into the rotation next season.

Adam Dunn, White Sox: At this point, it's bordering on abuse to keep slotting Adam Dunn in 3 Down. But what is one supposed to do, when Dunn consistently is one of the worst players to step on a field? At least those who can't hit a lick provide value on defense or baserunning. What exactly does Dunn provide value with? It was supposed to be hitting, but Dunn is having a season for the ages (in a not-good way) and whiffed three times against the Twins on Sunday in four hitless trips to the plate, sinking what already seems to be an unsinkable line to .163/.294/.302. Look, we get that Dunn needs to keep playing. He needs to hit for Chicago to do well, and there's a lot of years and money left on his deal, But does Ozzie Guillen really need to bat him cleanup?

Livan Hernandez, Nationals: Two home runs -- both solo shots in the bottom of the fourth -- were bad enough for Livan Hernandez, but he ended up letting seven other runs cross the plate, giving up nine all told. Sure, two runs were unearned, but that's still a lot of bad pitching in 3 2/3 innings, with the ageless pitcher giving up nine hits against zero strikeouts and walks. That's how you know you've got nothing, and Colorado hitters enjoyed teeing off Hernandez, whose ERA rose to 4.41. The 36-year-old has had several poor starts in his most recent outings, and one has to wonder if he's running out of gas.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com