Posted on: October 21, 2011 4:48 pm

Players association announces award nominees

By C. Trent Rosecrans

For those who love to debate awards selections, the players association has announced its finalist for the Players Choice Awards, voted on by the players. The winners will be announced Nov. 3 on MLB Network.

So, because you can't wait, here are your nominees:

American League
Outstanding player: Jose Bautista (Blue Jays), Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox), Curtis Granderson (Yankees)
Outstanding pitcher: James Shields (Rays), Justin Verlander (Tigers), Jered Weaver (Angels)
Outstanding rookie: Jeremy Hellickson (Rays), Eric Hosmer (Royals), Mark Trumbo (Angels)
Comeback player: Bartolo Colon (Yankees), Jacony Ellsbury (Red Sox), Casey Kotchman (Rays)

National League
Outstanding player: Ryan Braun (Brewers), Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Justin Upton (Diamondbacks)
Outstanding pitcher: Roy Halladay (Phillies), Ian Kennedy (Diamondbacks), Clayton Kershow (Dodgers)
Outstanding rookie: Freddie Freeman (Braves), Craig Kimbrel (Braves), Vance Worley (Phillies)
Comeback player: Lance Berkman (Cardinals), Jose Reyes (Mets), Ryan Vogelsong (Giants)

Player of the Year: Gonzalez, Granderson, Verlander
Man of the Year: Paul Konerko (White Sox), Adam Wainwright (Cardinals), Michael Young (Rangers)

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Posted on: October 21, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 6:22 pm

Tabloid compares Qaddafi's killer to A-Rod

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Today's lesson in bad taste? Brought to you by none other than the New York Post.

Here's the tabloid's front page from Friday (don't click if you're squeamish), comparing the assassination of a dictator to a baseball player's postseason failures.

Yep, Muammar Qaddafi was an evil dictator responsible for crushing the civil liberties of millions, using chemical weapons, aiding terrorism and the deaths of countless people. Alex Rodriguez is overpaid and went just 2 for 18 in the ALDS against the Tigers. Yeah, those two seem equal.

But hey, they have a picture of a guy with a gun wearing a cap with an interlocking NY and a picture of a bloody body of a dictator -- sounds like the perfect situation for an A-Rod isn't clutch joke. The Post's "joke" if you don't want to click on the link is that Qaddafi's killer had "more hits than A-Rod." Excuse me if I'm not laughing.

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 11:57 am

Yu Darvish denies asking to be posted

Yu DarvishBy C. Trent Rosecrans

We've all seen this before -- something's expected, a report comes out that it's going to happen, the principal comes out and says no decision has been made, decision is announced later and it's exactly what we expected to happen all along is going to happen.

Well, that's playing out in Japan right now with Yu Darvish.

The 25-year-old right-hander for Japan's Nippon Ham Fighters (for the record it's Nippon Ham as the sponsor of the team, and Fighters is the nickname) is going to be posted, Kyodo News in Japan reports (via Mainichi Daily News).

However, Darvish has tweeted that those reports are false and that he'll share any decision with his fans when his decision is made, according to YakyuBaka.com.

Darvish's Fighters are still alive in Japan's postseason, so it's unlikely he'd announce his intentions before the season is done.

Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA this season -- marking the fifth straight year he's had an ERA under 2.00 in Japan. He struck out 276 batters in 232 innings. The Rangers, Yankees and Blue Jays have all been said to be the most interested in Darvish, who will command a large contract -- and a large posting fee.

It does appear, however, if he asks, the Fighters will post Darvish.

"If he wants to play at a higher level, then that's his wish," Nippon Ham owner Hiroji Okoso told Kyodo News.

Darvish will probably be playing stateside next season and should be one of the most sought-after players on the market. However, the arcane posting system -- which has all teams interested submit blind bids for just the rights to negotiate with a player -- will make things more interesting, that's for sure.

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Posted on: October 7, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 4:02 pm

Ivan Nova strained his forearm in Game 5

By Matt Snyder

Tigers eliminate Yankees
Yankees starter Ivan Nova was pulled from Game 5 of the ALDS after just two innings of work by manager Joe Girardi. At the time, it appeared Girardi might have had a very quick hook -- though we did mention an injury was possible -- and Girardi revealed as much in an in-game interview. Friday, Nova had an MRI on his throwing arm and it revealed a Grade 1 flexor strain in his right forearm (Pinstripe Posts).

The injury will fully heal in the offseason and Nova will be ready to once again be a member of the Yankees starting rotation in 2012.

Nova, 24, had a solid rookie season for the Yankees in 2011. He went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He also picked up the victory in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Tigers.

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Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:54 am

Eye on Photos: Tigers take down Yankees in ALDS

By Matt Snyder

The Detroit Tigers have advanced to the ALCS by beating the New York Yankees, three games to two. Let's take a look at the series that was, in pictures.

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

Just three batters into Game 1, we have our first homer, this one courtesy of Delmon Young. (Getty Images)
The story of Game 1 was the weather, as play had to be suspended after just one and a half innings. (Getty Images)
A nice relay from Curtis Granderson to Derek Jeter to Russell Martin cut down Alex Avila at home in Game 1. (Getty Images)
Robinson Cano was pretty popular after his grand slam in Game 1. (Getty Images)
In the continuation of Game 1, Ivan Nova continually threw sinkers in the dirt that bounced up and eventually wounded the home-plate umpire. (Getty Images)
Nova was huge for the Yankees in Game 1. (Getty Images)
Max Scherzer was huge for the Tigers in Game 2. (Getty Images)
Miguel Cabrera's opposite-field shot gave the Tigers the lead for good in Game 2. (Getty Images)
In the battle of aces in Game 3, CC Sabathia faltered and left early. (Getty Images)
Delmon Young is congratulated for hitting a go-ahead home run in Game 3. It may have been the biggest hit in the series. (Getty Images)
Justin Verlander may not have been at his best, but he got the job done in Game 3. (Getty Images)
Yes, Jose Valverde likes to celebrate. (Getty Images)
Derek Jeter hit up the fountain of youth and showed off some range in Game 4. (Getty Images)
Curtis Granderson made an incredible catch in the left-center gap in Game 4. (Getty Images)
A.J. Burnett was a punchline before Game 4. After it, he was the man who saved the Yankees' season. (Getty Images)
As Robinson Cano piled up a nine-RBI series, the only one who shut him up was teammate Eduardo Nunez. (Getty Images)
Unheralded Don Kelly got the scoring started in Game 5 for the Tigers ... and they never looked back. (Getty Images)
A-Rod is left at home plate wondering what went wrong. (Getty Images)
Mark Teixeira sums up the feelings of Yankees fans everywhere after the bases are left loaded for the second time in Game 5. (Getty Images)
Cano completes the "Walk of Shame." (Getty Images)
Magglio Ordonez shows off some creative head gear after the series victory. (Getty Images)
An action photo of Band-Aid Gate. (U.S. Presswire)

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Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:15 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:59 pm

R.I.P.: 2011 New York Yankees

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: New York Yankees
Record: 97-65, 1st place in AL East. Lost ALDS 3-2 to Detroit.
Manager: Joe Girardi
Best hitter: Curtis Granderson -- .262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 136 R, 10 3B, 25 SB
Best pitcher: CC Sabathia -- 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 230 K in 237 1/3 IP


It was a pretty normal regular season for the Yankees, as they brought home their 12th AL East title in the past 16 seasons, but it wasn't drawn up the same way as other successful seasons. The pitching rotation from Day 1 was patchwork. Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and a host of others -- such as Mark Prior -- were brought in during spring training to see if any would stick and it worked out to varying degrees with Garcia, Colon and rookie Ivan Nova. The offense was once-again mighty, as Curtis Granderson emerged as an MVP candidate to pick up the slack for the injured and struggling Alex Rodriguez. Still, in the end, this season will be viewed as a failure since the Yankees didn't win the World Series. If they don't win the World Series, they fell short of expectations. More than 20 other teams would have been ultimately satisfied by this campaign, but not the Yankees. Losing in the ALDS is a failure. Period.

2012 AUDIT

The Yankees are in a familiar spot. They're set up to contend for a World Series title again in 2012, but they are going to have to fill some holes -- namely that they need another reliable starting pitcher. Eyes can look forward and see they need to get younger pretty soon, but with several contracts locked in, the Yankees don't have much choice for 2012. And there is no reason to expect the Yankees to be anywhere but right in the playoff mix come September of 2012. It would be foolish to think otherwise.


Robinson Cano, 2B (club option)
Eric Chavez, 3B
Nick Swisher, RF (club option)
Jorge Posada, DH
Bartolo Colon, SP
Freddy Garcia, SP
CC Sabathia, SP (can and probably will opt out)
Luis Ayala, RP


They will most certainly bring back Sabathia and Cano. From there ...
  • The rotation will have Sabathia, Nova, Hughes and probably A.J. Burnett. He makes too much money to not plug in there. He has the ability to be a decent fifth starter. Still, that rotation appears pretty top-heavy for a team that expects to be the best in the majors. So they need a legitimate second starter behind Sabathia. And he's sitting right there, if interested. C.J. Wilson of the Rangers is left-handed, which fits well in Yankee Stadium, and is a free agent. With the Posada money coming off the books, in addition to the Colon/Garcia money, the Yankees can likely outbid anyone else for Wilson's services. They could even backload a deal if need be, because people like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have expiring contracts in the next several years.
  • As I alluded to above, it's time to part ways with Posada and let Jesus Montero take over as the full-time DH. The youngster showed he has the ability to become a serious threat in the lineup and the Yankees need to inject some youth into the aging lineup. 
  • Pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances don't appear to be ready yet, but they're close. They will be monitored pretty heavily heading into 2012 and if Hughes or Burnett aren't getting it done, it's possible there's a change made. Nova is proof the Yankees aren't afraid to throw someone in the fire.
  • Swisher's situation in right is interesting. Is he worth eight figures? Probably not, according to most teams. But the Yankees can afford that and there aren't many better options out there. What if the Twins don't come to terms on a contract extension with Michael Cuddyer, though? It wouldn't hurt for the Yankees to weigh their options, but the best guess is Swisher comes back. 
  • Really, there isn't that much more that needs to be done. Russell Martin, Mark Teixiera, Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson will again be everyday starters. The rotation has four men set and the back-end of the bullpen has a returning Joba Chamberlain along with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. The biggest issue is getting one more starting pitcher and then filling the bench with also-rans like the Yankees did this year with Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez et al. Considering they were close, but not good enough, I fully expect the Yankees to throw the bank at Wilson and that will be the only significant offseason move concerning a player outside the organization. The only caveat to that is the Yankees will have to agree with Sabathia first -- and I do believe the Yankees will do whatever it takes to keep him -- which means they could miss out on Wilson in the meantime. If they do miss out, the leftovers aren't awesome. Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard and Joel Pineiro look like the best bets. If they wanted to trade, they're probably looking at the likes of Wandy Rodriguez or Jeff Niemann (I don't think the Rays would part with James Shields cheaply), so expect the Yankees to be very agressive with both Sabathia and then Wilson.
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Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:40 pm

Grading the Tigers-Yankees ALDS

By Matt Snyder

Jim Leyland's tinkering. Leyland was roundly mocked on Twitter for his choice in the two-hole of the batting order throughout the series. He used a different lineup five different times in five games while Yankees manager Joe Girardi kept the same lineup throughout the entire ALDS. And look at the Tigers' three wins. Magglio Ordonez was 3-for-3 with a run scored in Game 2. Ramon Santiago was 2-for-4 with two huge RBI in a Game 3 victory and Thursday night in Game 5, Don Kelly opened the scoring in the first inning with a solo home run. Give Leyland credit for pushing the right buttons, specifically with who he batted second, but generally throughout the entire series.

The Tigers' back-end duo of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde wasn't perfect in the series. Valverde made Game 2 interesting with a bad ninth and Benoit walked in a run Thursday night, even if it was an inherited runner. Still, the Tigers blew zero leads with either pitcher on the mound and the duo was a major reason for the series victory. Benoit in particular had to work out of some pretty rough spots, both in Game 2 and in Game 5. His stuff is nasty and he came up with big strikeouts when he had to have them. Valverde was shaky in his first two outings, but was anything but that in Game 5, with a one-run lead and the season on the line.

Justin Verlander struck out 11 batters and was masterful at times in his lone real start of the series: Game 3. He also gave up six hits, three walks and four earned runs. He did gather the victory, as he outpitched Yankees ace CC Sabathia. And we have to point out the Yankees do have a pretty damn good offense, too. It's just that this was a "C" effort for Verlander considering his body of work. You don't expect him to go out and give up four runs in a must-win game. He wasn't at his best, he was just good enough. That's a C-effort in my book. Probably in his, too. I also fully expect an A-effort in Game 1 against the Rangers.

We're going with Mother Nature/Major League Baseball here. Game 1 was ruined by rain. We have absolutely no way of knowing how the series would have gone -- and, remember, I predicted the Tigers in five anyway, so this is no excuse for the Yankees' loss -- but we were deprived of the real series. If MLB moved the start time earlier or didn't start Game 1 at all last Friday, we'd have seen both Verlander and Yankees ace CC Sabathia make two full starts in the series. Instead, each was wasted in a rain-suspended Game 1 and could only turn around to make one more start. On the other hand, the weather reports aren't always predictable, so this was a tough call. Bottom line, we got screwed a bit, and there's nowhere else to place the blame than with whoever you believe controls the weather in New York City.

Yankees 4-5-6 hitters. Alex Rodriguez is a big scapegoat for many. He has been for years. In Game 5, he struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and then ended the series with a strikeout in the ninth. The boos showered down upon him several times at home. Nick Swisher also struck out with the bases loaded in Game 5, and his was to end the inning. Combined, A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and Swisher went 9-for-55 (.164) with five RBI in the entire series. A-Rod was the worst, going 2-for-18 (.111), but all three of these guys were bad. If you want to know how bad, here's another illustration: The only two runs Robinson Cano scored all series were on his own home runs. He was left on base seven times.

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Posted on: October 7, 2011 12:31 am

Delmon Young thrives with protection in ALDS

By Matt Snyder

Delmon Young had just four home runs in 325 plate appearances for the Twins before being traded in August. He was waiver-wire fodder at the time. The Tigers picked him up and immediately started batting him third, even as many in the baseball world scratched their heads over the placement. But with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez behind him, Young would hit eight home runs in just 168 at-bats after the trade in the regular season. And in the ALDS win over the Yankees, Young was a star.

In the five ALDS games, Young hit .316 with three home runs four RBI and he even walked as many times as he struck out. That's an insane movement from a guy who has struck out 514 times and walked just 125 in his career in the regular season.

Tigers 3, Yankees 2
Conventional wisdom says that a manager should hit his best hitter third. That would easily be Caberera on the Tigers. And I believe the majority of the managers in the bigs would bat Cabrera third and Martinez cleanup. Young would probably hit somewhere from fifth to seventh for most guys. Instead, what Leyland has done with Young is noticed he's managing a guy who swings the bat too much and rarely takes pitches. In his sixth major-league season, Young isn't likely to break that habit, so instead, Leyland put him in position to see more strikes. No one wants to pitch to Cabrera and Martinez with men on base, so Young is seeing strikes. And he's making pitchers pay for them.

Now, the question turns to Young's status. He left Game 5 with an injured oblique and that is bad news. The Tigers will be crossing their fingers it's a very mild oblique issue, because he could be lost for the postseason if it's a significant strain. Evan Longoria of the Rays missed a month with an oblique strain earlier this season, for example.

If Young is healthy enough to play, he'll remain in the three-hole, with that nice protection behind him. And if he continues to see strikes, he'll continue to produce for the Tigers. Even if he's not a conventional three-hole hitter.

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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