Tag:AL East
Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:30 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Sabathia or Lee?



By Matt Snyder


For the latest installement of this offseason series, let's match up two left-handers who used to be teammates. It's CC Sabathia of the Yankees against Cliff Lee of the Phillies. Both are north of 30 years of age yet still elite pitchers. And both are very handsomely compensated for their skills.

Each player has won one Cy Young ... for the Indians. They were together in Cleveland from 2002 until about midway through the 2007 season. The Indians ended up with the following players after trading these two aces (yes, I know Roy Halladay is technically the Phillies' ace, but Lee is ace-caliber): Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson, Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson.

As an aside, I'll admit that I had a hearty chuckle in putting this one together. There aren't many things better to observe than New York and Philadelphia fans hurling insults at one another.

That being said, this is an obviously tough and very legitimate question. Let's dive in.

The case for Lee

At the age of 29, Cliff Lee turned his entire career around. He's now an elite pitcher. He was 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 2008, en route to a Cy Young award. The next two seasons he had four different zip codes, but was still far above average. In 2011, however, he finally found a home and was back as a Cy Young contender.

Would You Rather Have
For the Phillies in 2011, Lee went 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 238 strikeouts in 232 2/3 innings. Perhaps more impressive, however, were his six complete games -- all of which were shutouts, a figure that led the majors. Amazingly, his 42 walks actually marked a regression from the 18 in 2010, but it just goes to show how good Lee's control is.

And then we have the postseason. Lee is 7-3 with a 2.52 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 89 strikeouts in 82 career playoff innings. He has owned the mighty Yankees in three career playoff starts against them. Sabathia, meanwhile, has a 4.81 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 86 career postseason innings.

Finally, we cannot discount size here. I think the people who go after Sabathia for being "fat" or "out of shape" are misguided -- he's not small, but he's as durable as anyone -- but as the two pitchers get into their mid-30s, I think it would be naive to ignore the possibility that Lee will age much better.

The case for Sabathia

Carsten Charles Sabathia has proven himself one of the biggest workhorses in baseball for the past five seasons. It would be unheard of to expect 240 innings in a season from most pitchers in the majors, but that is Sabathia's average from 2007-2011. There is no pitcher in baseball who better places the burden of carrying the entire pitching staff than Sabathia.

He gets the job done in numbers, too. He has five straight top five finishes in Cy Young voting. Last season, the big man went 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 230 strikeouts in 237 1/3 innings. He was also tasked with facing the rugged AL East in one of the best hitters' parks in the majors (Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is also a hitters' park, but not near as drastic as Yankee Stadium).

The salaries -- which are gigantic -- are a wash.

Sabathia is 31 while Lee is 33, so the age tips the scale slightly in Sabathia's favor.

Our call

This is one of my toughest selections -- they had an indentical 6.9 bWAR last season -- but it's going to be Lee. While Sabathia is younger and has a longer track record of success, Lee has been a bigger shut-down pitcher, especially in the postseason. Now that he's found a long-term home, I expect that to continue.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:07 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 6:49 pm
 

Jorge Posada to announce retirement Tuesday

By Matt Snyder

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada will retire from baseball. The official announcement will come at a press conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET in Yankee Stadium.

Posada will go down in history as a very valued member of the Yankee family.

Posada, 40, made the All-Star team five times and also won five Silver Sluggers. He joined with Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter as the nucleus for the Yankees over an extended period of time, becoming known as the Core Four. He played 17 consecutive years with Jeter and Rivera, making them one of the most prolific teammate trios in professional sports history.

Posada saw his fair share of winning. By 1997 he was getting some important at-bats and in 1998 he was the primary catcher. The only season the Yankees didn't make the playoffs with Posada on the roster was 2008. He has five World Series rings and also played in two other World Series.

Over the course of his career, Posada hit 275 home runs while amassing 900 runs scored and 1,065 RBI. His career .273/.374/.474 line is outstanding for a catcher. The only catchers who hit more homers in their career were Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Lance Parrish and Ivan Rodriguez.

In terms of the Yankees leaderboard, Posada ranks seventh in doubles and walks, eighth in homers and 11th in RBI. He has homered in 29 different ballparks, which is the most in history for a Yankees player.

Hall of Fame?
Using Baseball-Reference.com's similarity scores, four of the top ten most similar players to Posada in baseball history are currently in the Hall of Fame.

Speaking of which, Posada does have a shot at enshrinement. It will probably be a tall order, though, with several loaded ballots coming up in the next five seasons.

Whether the Hall comes calling or not, Posada should be proud of his baseball career. It's been a great one.



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Posted on: January 21, 2012 6:19 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 6:42 pm
 

Red Sox trade Marco Scutaro to Rockies

Marco Scutaro

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rockies have acquired Boston's Marco Scutaro, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman confirms. Scutaro will play second base and likely bat second for the Rockies.

The deal was rumored on Friday, but then other reports said it was dead -- only to be resuscitated on Saturday. The Denver Post's Troy Renck, who initially reported the possibility of the deal on Friday, wrote the deal was revived "when the Rockies were able to work through some financial issues" to make room for Scutaro's $6-million salary for 2012. Scutaro is a free agent after the season.

Right-hander Clayton Mortensen is headed to Boston in return for the 36-year-old Scutaro. But more than that, it opens the $6 million for the team to spend on a pitcher, such as Roy Oswalt.

Mike Aviles and Nick Punto could platoon at shortstop for the Red Sox in Scutaro's absence. The Red Sox could also go with rookie Jose Iglesias, who appeared in 10 games for the Red Sox last season. Iglecias has a big-league ready glove, but his bat is a serious question. he hit .261/.308/.316 at Triple-A Pawtucket last season.

The Rockies upgrade their lineup with Scutaro, who hit .299/.358/.423 for the Red Sox last season.Jonathan Herrera had been penciled in to not only play second, but bat second.

The Rockies' trade of Kevin Slowey on Friday helped add some more payroll flexibility. Slowey was slated to make $2.75 million in 2012.

Mortensen, 26, appeared in 16 games for the Rockies last season, making six starts. He was 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA overall and 2-3 with a 4.15 ERA in his starts. He struck out 30 batters in 58 1/3 innings, with a 1.354 WHIP.

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Posted on: January 21, 2012 1:15 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 10:55 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?


By C. Trent Rosecrans

You could argue we're living in the golden age of first basemen. Of the last 12 MVPs, five have gone to first baseman, and four different ones (Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau), to boot. And that list doesn't even include Prince Fielder or either of the two first basemen we're looking at today -- Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Boston's Adrian Gonzalez.

Both slugging first basemen are younger than 30 (at least until May, when Gonzalez hits the big 3-0) and both rose to the majors by the time they were 22, although Gonzalez didn't become a star until he was traded to San Diego in 2006, while Cabrera came up as a third baseman and outfielder and got MVP votes as a 20-year-old rookie. Now, though, both are among the game's best and expected to pick up an MVP any time now.

The case for Cabrera

This isn't too tough to make -- Cabrera won the American League batting title with a .344 average and also had the league's best on-base percentage (.448) for the second consecutive season. He also hit 30 homers and led the majors with 48 doubles. He has a career OPS+ of 149 and had a 181 OPS+ last season, better even than his league-leading 178 in 2010. Here's a guy who is 33 homers from 300 and has a lifetime slash line of .317/.395/.555. The guy's bat is just special.

The case for Gonzalez

Would You Rather Have
A lot was expected of Gonzalez in his first season in Boston and it says something about his ability if his .338/.410/.548 season in his first year in a new league and in the toughest division in baseball was seen as something of a disappointment (but short of an MVP and World Series MVP, nothing was going to reach the lofty expectations of Red Sox fans coming into 2011). Gonzalez's 27 homers was his lowest total since 2006, his first full season in the big leagues, but he still led baseball with 213 hits and his 45 doubles ranked sixth in the league.

Not only is Gonzalez one of the best offensive players in the game, he's won four consecutive Gold Gloves, winning the award in both leagues.

As for the contract status, both players are more than fairly compensated, with Cabrera due to make $86 million over the next four seasons and Gonzalez signed through the 2018 season for a cool $154 million.

Our call

While Gonzalez is a very good player, Cabrera has the chance to be an all-time great. Gonzalez has better defense, but we're talking first base here, not shortstop. There would be some worry about Cabrera's off-the-field problems, but he's bounced back from those and he's never played less than 150 games since becoming a regular as a 21-year-old in 2004. He's the choice, no matter if he's a first baseman or a DH, because his bat is just that good.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Cabrera or Gonzalez on your favorite team?



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Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:30 pm
 

Report: A's interested in Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Billy Beane's Home for Wayward Designated Hitters may have found its next resident. The A's are "very interested" in bringing in Manny Ramirez, ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com reports.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Ramirez, 39, will have to serve a 50-game suspension at the beginning of the season, but then would be free to DH for whatever team will have him. According ot the report, the Orioles and Blue Jays watched Ramirez at a batting cage and liked what they saw.

Last season Hideki Matsui was the celebrity guest star in the A's lineup, but the team has decided not to bring him back.

Ramirez had one hit in 17 plate appearances in five games for the Rays before he was suspended for 100 games for his second positive drug test and subsequently retired. Ramirez applied for reinstatement in December. His suspension was reduced to 50 games after missing the entire 2011 season.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:30 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 12:16 pm
 

Carlos Pena agrees to re-join Rays

Carlos Pena

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Carlos Pena is returning to the Rays, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reports. Pena will make $7.25 million from the one-year deal, according to Heyman. Pena made $10 million from the Cubs last year in what agent Scott Boras called a "pillow contract," which would allow him to have a big year at Wrigley Field and then sign a multi-year deal this winter. That didn't happen.

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Pena, 33, hit .225/.357/.462 with 28 home runs for the Cubs last season. He hit just .196 in 2010 for the Rays, but slugged 28 homers and actually had an OPS+ of 103 despite his low batting average.

Pena played for the Rays from 2007-2010, hitting .238/.368/.516 with 144 home runs in his four seasons with the Rays, finishing ninth in MVP voting in his first two seasons with the Rays and making the All-Star team in 2009.

Last season Casey Kotchman was the Rays first baseman, and while he hit .306/.378/.422 for Tampa Bay last season, he had just 10 home runs. The addition of Pena would add extra pop to the Rays' lineup over the free-agent Kotchman.

Heyman noted the Indians were interested in both Pena and Kotchman. With Pena off the board, Cleveland would be a logical landing spot for Kotchman.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 10:05 am
 

Failed imports may replace Darvish in Japan

Kei Igawa Kenshin Kawakami

By C. Trent Rosecrans


If you're a Japanese team and you lose your best player to the big leagues, what do you do to replace him? Well, besides cashing a check for more than $51.7 million, you turn to former big-league pitchers.

The Nippon Ham Fighters (and once again, let me stress that it's the Nippon Ham… Fighters, not the Ham Fighters) are looking at former Japanese big leaguers Kei Igawa and Kenshin Kawakami, according to Daily Sports in Japan (via YakyuBaka.com). The Rangers hope it's not an even trade, as neither Igawa nor Kawakami lived up to expectations in the United States.

Igawa, 32, was posted after the 2006 season and the Yankees paid a posting fee of more than $26 million before signing to a five-year, $20 million contract with New York. For all that money, the Yankees got 13 starts and three relief appearances out of the left-hander, and he hasn't appeared in a big-league game since 2008. In MLB, he went 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA. Last year he was 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A. With the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League, he led the league in strikeouts three times and won the 2003 Eiji Sawamura Award, Japan's Cy Young equivalent.

Kawakami, 36, signed with the Braves as an international free agent in 2009, meaning the Braves didn't have to pay a posting fee. He won the Sawamura Award and Central League MVP in 2004. With the Braves, Kawakami was 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 41 starts and nine relief appearances in 2009 and 2010 before being outrighted to Double-A after the 2010 season. He struggled in Double-A in 2011, going 2-4 with an 8.41 ERA in 16 appearances (six starts) for Double-A Mississippi.

As Matt Snyder already pointed out, the fact that other Japanese pitchers have failed, doesn't mean Darvish will. Of course, that didn't stop our Taiwanese friends to make the comparison in one of their infamous videos, where Walker "Tex-xas" Ranger is handing over the checks to Darvish to face off Albert Pujols.



The Rangers will have a press conference with Darvish to make the signing official Friday night at 7 p.m. Texas time at Rangers Ballpark.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 9:13 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Kershaw or Price?



By Matt Snyder


For the latest installment in our ongoing offseason series, let's take a look at two similar left-handed starting pitchers. They're both under age 27, both made their respective debuts in 2008, were both drafted in the first round and both have already had a top two finish in Cy Young voting (one won it). One plays in the AL East, the other in the NL West. That's right, it's Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers against David Price of the Rays.

The case for Kershaw

Well, gee, where to begin? How about with a 2011 Cy Young Award -- coming in a season where Kershaw won the pitching triple crown, leading the NL with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. Also impressive were Kershaw's 233 1/3 innings pitched, five complete games, two shutouts while sporting an NL-best 0.98 WHIP. On top of all that, Kershaw took home the Gold Glove. He can even hit, as the .225 batting average and 10 runs scored is pretty impressive for a pitcher.

Better yet, Kershaw is only turning 24 this coming March and has already logged over 700 innings in his young career. We're talking a guy who could be a legitimate Cy Young candidate for the next decade-plus.

The case for Price

Upon first glance at the historically basic pitching categories, Price had a down year in 2011. He went 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA. This came on the heels of a season where he went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and finished second in AL Cy Young voting. Advanced metrics like FIP and xFIP, however, say Price simply had worse luck in how things shook out. And it wasn't like he was bad anyway. He struck out 218 batters in 224 1/3 innings and sported an impressive 1.14 WHIP. And at age 26, it's very reasonable to expect Price to have a similar looking W/L and ERA in 2012 to what we saw in 2010.

Would You Rather Have
Still, I can hear the cries already. This is a stupid "comparison" because Kershaw's numbers like W/L and ERA dwarfed Price's in 2011, right? Well, the opposite was true in 2010 and let us also consider the competition. Remember, Kershaw is in the NL West while Price is in the AL East.

Kershaw made nine of his 34 starts against the Giants or Padres -- and the only worse offense in baseball belonged to the Mariners. He made two more starts against the Astros. In those 11 starts against dreadful offenses, Kershaw went nuts, to the tune of a 10-0 record and 1.33 ERA. Meanwhile, Price made 12 starts against the top three offenses -- in terms of runs scored -- in baseball: The Red Sox, Yankees and Rangers. Of Price's 34 starts, 21 came against teams with a winning record.

It's fair to point out that Kershaw had good success against the Diamondbacks and Tigers while Price was knocked around by the Twins and A's, for example. But the general point is that Price faced much tougher offenses throughout 2011.

Our call

There is absolutely no wrong answer, but I'm going Kershaw. It might be surprising after those last few paragraphs, but I was merely trying to sell just how tough this decision should be. Glancing merely at the Cy Young voting and traditional stats from 2011 says Kershaw is an easy choice, but it's far from easy. In fact, my choice is based merely on the roughly 2 1/2 year difference in age. Otherwise they are basically the same to me, as the competition level evens out their numbers -- not to mention factoring in 2010.

Fan Vote:



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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