Tag:Alex Gonzalez
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:26 am
 

Picking the National League's best defenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Gold Gloves are one of baseball's toughest awards to decide -- and sometimes toughest to understand. Unlike many of the game's other awards, the Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches, and every year it seems there's a winner or two that seems to win the award more with their bat than their glove.

Not only do some players seem to win it with something other than their glove, sometimes the award can be a lot like the Supreme Court, once you get elected, you're not going to lose your seat.

That said, it's a difficult award to vote for. There are better fielding statistics coming out every year, yet most are still in their infancy and can tell you only so much. Good defense, sometimes can be a lot like the definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave for pornograpy in Jacobelis v. Ohio in 1964: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embrued within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it." 

With that in mind, perhaps the voters for the Gold Gloves should be the scouts, but instead I'll try my hand at picking out the best defensive players in the National League.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

As tough as it is to use numbers to evaluate fielders, it's even tougher with catchers. At least the numbers with other fielders have some meaning, with catchers there's so much more to what they do defensively that it's hard not to go on reputation -- and nobody has a better reputation than Molina.

Others considered: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; Brian McCann, Braves.

First base: Joey Votto, Reds

When Votto was coming up, people knew he could hit -- that was hard to ignore -- but his reputation at first base was nowhere near as good. Even as a rookie, he often struggled, especially on throws to a pitcher covering first. Since then, he's improved every year and this year he has proven himself to be the best defensive first baseman in the league. Votto, last year's MVP, covers more ground at first than any other first baseman in the league, which means it can be tough to get a hit if you hit it on the ground to the right side of the Reds infield, beacuse of the next guy on the list.

Others considered: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Todd Helton, Rockies.

Brandon PhillipsSecond base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

A two-time Gold Glover, Phillips should be in line for his third. There may be no other player in baseball with as long of a highlight-reel as Phillips, who seemingly makes another amazing play every night.

Others considered: Chase Utley, Phillies, Omar Infante, Marlins, Neil Walker, Pirates

Third base: Pablo Sandoval, Giants

There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year. The advanced stats don't tell you everything yet, but they're still pretty good. Sandoval leads qualified National League third basemen in UZR (12.3), UZR/150 (21.2) and plus-minus (20). 

Others considered: Placido Polanco, Phillies; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken. 

Others considered: Alex Gonzalez, Braves; Jose Reyes, Mets; Clint Barmes, Astros.

Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

The voting has changed this year to award Gold Gloves to each of the three outfield positions instead of three generic outfielder awards that usually went to center fielders. Carlos Gonzalez is tough to categorize, but considering he's played more games in left than any other spot, he's the easy choice here. He's started 60 games in left, 34 in right and 28 in center. He's played all three well, which isn't easy at spacious Coors Field, committing only one error on the season.

Others considered: Matt Holliday, Cardinals. Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks. Tony Gwynn, Dodgers.

Shane VictorinoCenter field: Shane Victorino, Phillies

This is one stacked category, with several deserving players. Under the old rules it would be easy, you'd have three center fielders and give them the three Gold Gloves. Under the new rules, it's a tougher choice. Victorino has had an MVP-type year, and no small part of that has been patrolling center field for the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian is as good as anyone out there and his error-less season gives him the edge.

Others considered: Chris Young, Diamondbacks; Carlos Gomez, Brewers; Cameron Maybin, Padres; Rick Ankiel, Nationals; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates.

Right field: Mike Stanton, Marlins

He may be known best for the moon shots off his bat, but Stanton is a surprisingly good defensive outfielder. Stanton has the combination of athleticism and arm strength to be the best defensive right fielder in the game.

Others considered: Jay Bruce, Reds; Carlos Beltran, Giants; Jason Heyward, Braves.

Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Mets

A knuckleball pitcher needs to field his position well -- there are plenty of bad hits coming back to the mound off poor contact. Dickey has been very good fielding his position and helped his team with his glove.

Others considered: Jake Westbrook, Cardinals; Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Derek Lowe, Braves.

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Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 11:33 pm
 

September Storylines: Swan songs for players

Oswalt

By Evan Brunell

Note: Through Thursday, the Eye on Baseball team will be churning out two September Storylines per day.

The 2011 season could mark the end of the line for many players in the game -- some of whom will walk away of their own choosing and some who will be forced out. There will be legends and scrubs alike hanging up the cleats. Here's a look at the top nine players that could be bidding farewell to their playing career after the season.

A generation of shortstops: We're gonna start this list out by cheating immediately and count eight players -- yes, eight -- as one on the list. This season could be the end for a cadre of shortstops who, over the last two decades, have been responsible for significant playing time at the position. Orlando Cabrera, Craig Counsell, Rafael Furcal, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada and Omar Vizquel could all choose to hang up their cleats. While none of these players appear to be viable starters in 2011, it's still a significant chunk of history to lose. Between these players, 61,355 plate appearances headed into Monday's games have been earned by these shortstops. Between these players alone, they are responsible for just over 102 full seasons of playing time, assuming 600 plate appearances a year.

It's unlikely that all these players will retire, especially since someone will have to occupy a starting or bench spot. Losing eight shortstops currently holding starting or backup positions would create a major depth void, and teams simply don't have enough resources to fill the gap. Several Dominican Republic newspapers believe Tejada will retire, while Counsell's retirement is a virtual lock.

Here's the breakdown of plate appearances per player through Sunday's games and their debut season:

Orlando Cabrera: 8,213 PA, 1997
Craig Counsell: 5,450, 1995
Rafael Furcal: 6,557, 2000
Alex Gonzalez: 5,935, 1998
Julio Lugo: 5,338, 2000
Edgar Renteria: 8,990, 1996
Miguel Tejada: 9,035, 1997
Omar Vizquel: 11,837, 1989

Roy Oswalt (pictured): Oswalt has made reference enough times to retiring after the season that one has to take the threat seriously. Oswalt rejuvenated his career last season and has been a capable pitcher for Philadelphia this year and is just 34 years old. If he wanted to, he could net another strong contract, but has struggled with back problems all year and has been held to just 17 starts on the season. If Oswalt decides he doesn't have anything left to play for, he'll just go back to his ranch and bulldozer that was a gift from Astros owner Drayton McLane.

If he does indeed retire, he'll do so as one of the best pitchers of the '00s, tying for fifth in the decade for wins with 137 and 10th in ERA with 3.23, a mark that jumps to fifth when you remove relievers from the equation.

September Storylines
To come:
      • Can Jose Reyes stay healthy?
      • Which minor-leaguers can make an impact?
    • A look at the postseason races
Jorge Posada: It's doubtful that the Yankee great will retire. Instead, he's likely going to move on to another team, but he could also end his career having played for just New York and as the best catcher in franchise history since Thurman Munson. In his first year as full-time DH after 14 seasons behind the plate, he's progressively earned less and less playing time the longer the year has gone on thanks to an anemic .244/.322/.407 line. At age 40, no team will live with Posada behind the plate and there are only so many DH jobs to go around. Posada will be in the same spot as several other players toggling between coming back for another year or retiring in jockeying for jobs. A down-and-out DH isn't exactly in demand, especially during a time where the DH is increasingly being used to give players in the field a break as opposed to sticking someone in DH the entire season and leaving him there.

Vladimir Guerrero: Vlad the Impaler looked like he might be done after the 2009 season, but hammered 29 home runs for Texas last year (albeit mostly during a scorching-hot first half), which earned him another starting job this season. But in Baltimore, the wheels have completely fallen off, with the 36-year-old hitting just .277/.307/.390. Guerrero is a lost cause in the field, so is limited to DH these days. He's clearly not doing a good job of it and could elect to walk away as one of the greatest Expos in franchise history and 446 career home runs through Sunday. Guerrero didn't sign until mid-February, adamant on getting a full-time job and an $8 million salary. He won't come close to those guarantees again and may elect to pack it in. The demand for Guerrero, especially after the year he's had, figures to be tame.

J.D. Drew: Drew isn't the only outfielder that many in the game would recognize that could retire, as Magglio Ordonez could also hang them up. But Drew's had a more prominent role, first becoming a lifelong villain in Philadelphia for spurning them in the draft, later signing with the Cardinals. Drew also has had a productive career, despite being injury-prone and has a World Series ring (2007, Boston) to show for it. The 35-year-old isn't the type of person to hang onto a baseball career as long as he can, and would absolutely walk away to be with family. Even though he's had a lousy year in which he lost his starting job to Josh Reddick, he wouldn't lack for job prospects if he decided to return. But given his reputation in the game as a passive player disliked by fans, with injuries constantly sidelining him and more money than he will ever need, Drew could walk away.

Tim Wakefield: Tim Wakefield has had a long and storied career, but is reaching the end of the line. He's failed in six straight instances to grab career win No. 200. Some of these games, he's deserved to come out with a win, but the last two years have been a struggle for him -- especially the second half this season -- and the Red Sox may opt to cut the cord. If that happens, Wakefield will retire, even if he feels like he could return for another season or two. He's also just eight wins away from the all-time Red Sox wins record, a mark that looked sure to fall two years ago but he's collected just 10 wins these last two seasons while losing his role as a permanent starter. When Wakefield retires, he will take his knuckleballer with him, leaving the late-blooming R.A. Dickey as the only knuckler in the majors. Wakefield's retirement is dependent more on Boston's interest in bringing him back.

Javier Vazquez: Vazquez was cryptic about his retirement plans to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, telling the paper that he has known for some time whether this will be his final year or not, but is declining to reveal his answer until after the season.

"Something I've always wanted to do is when I retire to do it on my terms," Vazquez, who has three children, of which the oldest is 8, said. I've never wanted to retire because I couldn't pitch anymore. I want people to say, 'He retired, but he could have kept pitching,' not, 'It was already time for him to retire.'" Vazquez has turned his season around since an awful beginning, posting a 2.53 ERA over his last 75 1/3 innings. Given that, plus the lack of free agent starters, Vazquez may be able to net another sizable contract, but it appears as if he's ready to go home at the age of 35.

As the Sun-Sentinel reports, if Vazquez does retire, he will do so having amassed the the second-most strikeouts by a Latin pitcher, behind just Pedro Martinez. In addition, the righty will probably pass Christy Mathewson for 29th all-time.

Jim Thome: Thome isn't the only slugging first baseman that could hang up his cleats -- Jason Giambi may also call it a season. But there's no doubt that Thome has had the more storied career, recently knocking his 600th home run and heading back to Cleveland in a deal, rejoining the team he came up and had his glory years with. Thome is hitting .238/.347/.477 on the year with 13 home runs in 251 PA, so he could easily find work next year if he wanted to. But with No. 600 out of the way, a return to Cleveland in the books and a current age of 41, Thome could decide to hang it up, even if he would do so without a World Series ring.

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Posted on: April 9, 2011 1:36 am
Edited on: April 9, 2011 2:08 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/8: Rays, Red Sox finally win

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Dan Johnson

3UP

Dan Johnson, Rays -- Johnson's three-run homer topped off a five-run ninth, giving the Rays their first victory of the season, 9-7 over the White Sox. Not only was it the Rays' first win of the season, Johnson gave the team its first lead of the season.

Antonio Bastardo, Phillies -- The 25-year-old lefty gave up Chipper Jones' 2,500th career hit on Friday, but after that he struck out the next six batters he faced -- Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, Alex Gonzalez, Freddie Freeman and Tim Hudson.

Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals -- Not only did Zimmermann pick up his first victory since undergoing Tommy John surgery, he also threw 91 pitches, while allowing six hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Oh yeah, he also singled in two runs in the second inning.

3DOWN

Brian Wilson, Giants -- After staring in the Giants' pregame ceremonies to commemorate their World Series title, Wilson came into the game in the ninth inning to lock down another save. Instead, he gave up two runs on two hits and two walks. It was his second appearance since coming off the disabled list, allowing three runs Wednesday against the Dodgers. Manager Bruce Bochy has taken him out without finishing the inning in both outings. But hey, at least his ERA dropped from 40.50 to 33.75.

Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- You're not going to see this name in this part of 3 up, 3 down too often, but the two-time Gold Glover (including 2010) dropped a simple throw from pitcher Brian Tallet on Andres Torres' two-out grounder in the 12th inning on Saturday. That set up an RBI single by Aaron Rowand to give the Giants a 5-4 victory.

Boone Logan, Yankees -- In six plate appearances against lefties this season, Yankee the left-handed reliever has allowed three hits and two walks. Logan gave up hits to David Ortiz and J.D. Drew, with Drew's single in the seventh scoring two and locking up the first win of the season for the Red Sox. He did get Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out to end the inning, but the damage had been done by that point. With Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte on the DL, he's the team's only lefty in the bullpen.

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

Posted on: March 6, 2011 9:34 pm
 

Heyward gives Braves a scare in return

Jason HeywardBy C. Trent Rosecrans

After missing three games with groin discomfort, Braves right fielder Jason Heyward gave his manager a scare when he landed oddly trying to avoid a tag at home.

Washington's Nyjer Morgan and Danny Espinosa gunned down Heyward, who was trying to score from first on a double by Alex Gonzalez in the second inning. Heyward slowed down and slid awkwardly in an attempt to avoid Wilson Ramos' tag.

"When he comes to the plate, you go, 'Get up, get up,' and then he got up," Fredi Gonzalez told MLB.com's Mark Bowman. "He's fine."

Heyward stayed in the game long enough to get two more at-bats. In three plate appearances, he walked once, was hit once and singled. He left the game for a pinch-runner following his seventh-inning single.

"It all felt good," said Heyward, who played in the field. "I didn't hold anything back."

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More MLB coverage
Posted on: November 2, 2010 5:01 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 5:43 pm
 

Braves pick up options on Gonzalez, Infante

Alex Gonzalez The Braves have agreed to a one-year deal with right-hander Scott Proctor and exercised their options on shortstop Alex Gonzalez and infielder Omar Infante, the team announced.

Both options for Infante and Gonzalez (pictured) are worth $2.5 million.

Proctor was arbitration-eligible.

The Braves declined their options on Kyle Farnsworth (a $5.25 million option with a $250,000 buyout) and Rick Ankiel ($6 million with a $500,000 buyout).

The team also has an option on closer Billy Wagner, who has repeatedly said he's going to retire. When asked Tuesday morning by MLB.com's Mark Bowman if he'd changed his plans, Wagner "emphatically" said, "No."

UPDATE: The Braves are interested in keeping free agent Eric Hinske around, David O'Brien of the Altanta Journal-Constitution writes.

"There still can be a role on the club for him, even though he’s left-handed," GM Frank Wren told O'Brien. "There are still areas where we can use him. We think he was a valuable part of the team last year and we still have interest in him."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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



Posted on: October 14, 2010 3:59 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:05 am
 

Lee played with torn ligament

Derrek Lee Derrek Lee earned the respect of the Braves, if not a job for 2011.

Braves general manager Frank Wren told reporters Lee played the last two months of the season with a torn thumb ligament, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports .

"Bobby [Cox] and [trainer] Jeff Porder both said this is one tough guy to play with what he's playing with," Wren said.

Wren said Lee jammed his right thumb on opening day in Atlanta while playing with the Cubs and had recovered by the time he was traded to the Braves in August. However, Lee tore the ligament a week after coming to Atlanta.

The injury was similar, but more severe, to the one that kept rookie Jason Heyward on the disabled list for three weeks. Lee had two pain-killing injections and had the occasional day off.

Lee, 35, will be a free agent, but don't expect him to return to Atlanta. The AJC 's David O'Brien tweets the team fully expects Freddie Freeman to be their opening-day first baseman (and have Alex Gonzalez at shortstop.)

Lee hit .260/.347/.428 with 19 homers this season, hitting .287/.384/.465 with three homers in 39 games for the Braves. Freeman appeared in 20 games for the Braves with four hits in 24 at bats. He hit one home run. In Triple-A, Freeman hit .319/.378/.521 with 18 homers in 124 games for Gwinnett of the International League.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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






Posted on: October 8, 2010 10:59 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2010 2:28 am
 

Another thumb for Cox

Bobby Cox
If the skipper has one more in him, Bobby Cox can finish with a full season's worth of ejections: 162.

The Braves' manager got tossed during the second inning of Friday night's Game 2 of NLDS against the Giants, his third postseason ejection (also during the 1992 and 1996 World Series). He also has 158 regular-season ejections, by far the most in baseball history. John McGraw is next with 129.

Cox got the thumb Friday when he argued that Alex Gonzalez should have been safe at first after Giants shortstop Juan Uribe made a terrific play on a ground ball. Cox argue that first baseman Aubrey Huff's foot came off the bag, which didn't look to be the case on replays.

But Cox was probably not even really arguing that play -- he was arguing because of a blown call the night before, when umpire Paul Emmel blew a key call at second. The first-base umpire Friday? Emmel. Cox let him have it, throwing his hat and letting loose a string of (apparent) expletives while leaving the field.

Ejections are a big part of the Cox legend. Good to see him get in one more before the end of his storied career.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: August 1, 2010 10:28 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Trade market still open


Adam Dunn Everyone refers to the last day of July as the "trade deadline" even if it's not exactly accurate. It's officially the "non-waiver trade deadline" and that first part may not roll off the tongue, but it's important. It's the reason why one of the most speculated-about players at the deadline, Adam Dunn, told me July 31 "doesn't mean [anything]" to him.

Dunn should know, in the last year of a two-year deal, Dunn's movement will be speculated upon throughout the next month. He also knows from experience, two years ago the Reds traded him to Arizona after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Waivers are certainly a complication, but deals still get done until the end of the month, when a player has to be on the roster to be eligible for the postseason. So how does it work?

First, most teams put most -- if not all -- their players through the waiver process since you don't have to give up a player who is claimed, you can just pull him off waivers.

Unclaimed players can be traded to any team. Claimed players can be kept, traded or just handed over to the claiming team for nothing but salary relief. That's what happened last year when the Blue Jays put him on waivers, the White Sox claimed him and Toronto was happy to shed his remaining five years for $59.7 million on his contract. So, if some team wanted to claim Carlos Zambrano or Kosuke Fukudome or Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs would likely dance for joy. But that's unlikely to happen (even though I would have said the same thing a year ago about Rios).

Now, if just one team claims a player, he can be dealt only to that team. If more than one team claims a player, he can be traded to the team with the worst record in his league that claims him. If no team in the same league claims the player, but more than one team in the other league claims him, he can be traded to the team with the worst record.

So now with the process out of the way, it's good to keep in mind that this isn't an unusual process. Last season Scott Kazmir, Jim Thome, Carl Pavano, Alex Gonzalez, Brad Penny, Aubrey Huff, Billy Wagner, Jon Garland and Ivan Rodriguez. So who could that be this year?

Obviously, Dunn is still out there. He realizes the real trade deadline is at the end of this month, not the beginning. If the Nationals can't agree to an extension, the Nationals need to get something for Dunn. Based on many of the rumors that were out there, it was hardly surprising he wasn't dealt. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was asking for the moon and nobody was willing to spend the money to get there. White Sox GM Kenny Williams hasn't exactly hidden his desire for Dunn, and a little thing like waivers won't stop him. However, he'll have to hope nearly the rest of the teams pass on the big man, and that's not likely.

The biggest name that could move would be Manny Ramirez. The Dodgers don't know what they're going to get out of him and could shed roughly $7 million. As CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller notes , Ramirez has a full no-trade clause, but would likely waive that to go to the American League and DH. If the White Sox can't get Dunn, Ramirez may be a solid backup option -- albeit a bit expensive.

Andy LaRoche Diamondbacks first baseman Adam LaRoche has a mutual option for 2011 that increases to $9.5 million if he's traded, though the buyout remains at $1.5 million. Kelly Johnson may not get through waivers, but could still be traded. He's arbitration eligible after the season.

The Royals would certainly love for another team to take Jose Guillen and what's left of the $12 million salary for this season. Guillen is a free agent after the season.

Mike Lowell is still -- sorta -- with the Red Sox, but would likely sail through waivers because he's owed the remainder of his $12 million salary this season and nobody's quite sure what they'll get out of him.

The reliever market didn't see much action on Saturday, but Toronto's Kevin Gregg, Seattle's David Aardsma and Colorado's Joe Beimel could be moved before the end of this month.

As for starters, Colorado's Aaron Cook is signed for $9.25 million next season with a mutual option of $11 million in 2012 and a $0.5 million buyout. His annual salary increases by $1 million for each season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

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