Tag:Andrew McCutchen
Posted on: September 7, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 1:06 am
 

Sizing up the NL MVP contenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Tonight: the NL MVP.

Lacking perhaps the sizzle or controversy of the American League MVP race, the National League MVP race could be just as interesting. While there's plenty of buzz in the AL about whether a pitcher should win the MVP, the NL question of the MVP status quo may be about a member of a losing team taking the game's top honor. While the contending teams have some worthy candidates, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki, the Reds' Joey Votto and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen all have compelling arguments to be included even if their teams are well out of the race.

In alphabetical order, here are the 10 candidates that figure to appear on many of ballots:

Ryan Braun, Brewers: Braun leads the league in batting average (.335), slugging percentage (.595), OPS (.999) and runs scored (96), he's also in the top five in RBI (95) and top ten in homers (27) -- and he's doing it for a team that will be headed to the playoffs. Last season Joey Votto beat Albert Pujols convincingly on the MVP ballots (31 first-place votes out of 32), if not so convincingly on the stat sheet. The two were close to even in their offensive stats, with Votto's team winning the division title perhaps giving him the edge in the very vague category of "value." The Brewers' record could be Braun's trump card on many ballots.

Roy Halladay, Phillies: Widely considered the best pitcher in the National League, if not baseball, Halladay is having another stellar season with a 16-5 record and a 2.49 ERA. However, the pitcher for MVP argument is being made with Justin Verlander, not Halladay. While Halladay may be the best pitcher in the National League and could appear near the bottom of several ballots (he does lead the NL in pitcher WAR, 6.2 according to Baseball-Reference.com), but it will take a clear-cut best pitcher in the league to win the MVP. The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw is making a late push for Cy Young with a 17-5 record and 2.45 ERA) and Cliff Lee may be having the best season of any Phillies' starter.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers: Going into Tuesday night's game, Kemp was third in batting average (.320), tied for second in home runs (32) and third in RBI (106), giving him a shot at becoming the National League's first triple crown winner since Joe Medwick did it in 1937. The knock on Kemp will certainly be his team's 68-72 record and a season in Los Angeles much better remembered for the drama off the field than anything done on it.

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: At the All-Star break, this would have been a popular pick, but since then, the Pirates have faded and the star around Pittsburgh's center fielder has dimmed. But McCutchen is still having a fabulous year, cementing himself as one of the game's emerging stars. His stats have taken a dip, hitting .269/.372/.464 with 20 homers and 81 RBI to go along with 20 stolen bases. According to FanGraphs.com, he's seventh among position players in WAR, but much of his value comes from his defense. McCutchen won't win the MVP and won't finish in the top five, but he may get some votes based on his all-around game and the Pirates' impressive start.

Albert Pujols, Cardinals: You can't talk National League MVP and not bring up Albert Pujols, can you? Not even this year -- when so many counted him out at the beginning of the year and others thought he'd miss a good chunk of time with a broken bone -- can you leave out the three-time winner. He's bounced back from an awful start to hit .295/.367/.553 and lead the league in homers (34). Pujols won't win, not just because he failed to live up to the expectations he's set for himself, but also because the Cardinals have faded in the seasons last months once again.

Jose Reyes, Mets: Reyes' reward will likely come after the November announcement of the MVP and be in the form of a huge contract. A front-runner for the award for much of the season, hamstring injuries have hampered the Mets' shortstop, limiting him to 105 games. He's fallen behind Braun in the batting title race, but is still putting up a very good .332/.371/.493 line with five homers, 37 RBI and 35 stolen bases. 

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: The Rockies have seriously underachieved, but not Tulowitzki, who is hitting .304/.376/.550 with 29 homers and 100 RBI while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. It seems like a matter of time before Tulowitzki wins an MVP (or two), but it won't be this year. Colorado's collapse was too great and while his offensive numbers are great, they aren't so much better than any other category that he's going to vault to the top of many ballots. He may be the best all-around player in the game (especially considering his position), but won't be the MVP.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: It looks like the Diamondbacks are going to run away with the NL West and their best (and perhaps only recognizable player) is Upton, the 24-year-old center fielder. Upton is hitting .296/.378/.540 with 27 homers, 82 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He's having a fantastic season and has a very bright future. That said, in what was the most important month of the season and one that saw Arizona take control of the NL West, Upton maybe his worst month of the season, hitting .260/.342/.481.

Shane Victorino, Phillies: Overshadowed by Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and even Jayson Werth in previous years, Victorino has been outstanding in 2011. He's hitting .303/.380/.529 with 15 homers and 56 RBI, while scoring 84 runs. He's won three straight Gold Gloves in center field and has been a constant for the Phillies over the years. However, on a team built around its stud pitchers, a position player may get overlooked for MVP. He finished 18th in 2009, but look for a top 10 finish this season as respect grows for one of the game's most unsung stars.

Joey Votto, Reds: Last year's winner won't repeat, but he's again having another great season, hitting .316/.428/.536, leading the National League in on-base percentage and third in OPS. He's also doing it without Scott Rolen's protection behind him. Rolen has been injured much of the season, missing 76 of the team's 141 games and his play suffering in the 65 games he has played. That's allowed pitchers to pitch around Votto, who leads the National League in walks (100) and the majors in Win Probability Added (6.9). His numbers may not quite be where they were a year ago, but he's done nothing to suggest he's not the best first baseman in the league -- and that's some pretty heady competition.

So all in all, who is the best candidate to win the MVP? We'll answer that later in the year, but you can have your say in the comments. 

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 6:00 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 9:26 pm
 

Report: Pirates to sign Tabata to six-year deal

Tabata

By Evan Brunell

The Pirates are following on the heels of teams such as the Rockies and Rays of recent years in locking up their young players to long-term deals despite these players being a ways away from arbitration, never mind free agency.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the Pirates have agreed to a six-year deal with outfielder Jose Tabata and are deep in discussions with second basemen Neil Walker. Tabata only debuted last June, but has quickly integrated himself into the fabric of the team, hitting a cumulative .285/.348/.385 over 747 plate appearances the past two seasons, swiping 33 bags. Tabata, who turned 23 on Aug. 12 and was acquired from the Yankees in a 2008 trade, doesn't have much power but has hit exclusively at the top of the order for Pittsburgh and should remain there over the life of his new six-year, deal, which kicks in immediately and guarantees his deal through 2016. That means Tabata isn't signing away a guaranteed year of free agency, but did  agree to three successive club options. In that vein, it's very similar to the four-year deal James Shields inked with the Rays for the 2008 season that has three club options built into the contract.

Don't expect a significant figure to be attached to Tabata's deal, even if it's for six seasons. That's because Tabata is giving up the chance to earn significant money through arbitration in exchange for cost-certainty. Instead of taking the risk of being worth a $10 million deal in the final year of arbitration in 2016, Tabata will take guaranteed money that he will receive regardless of injury or attrition. As an idea of what Tabata could receive on the free-agent market, first note that the first two years of the deal will be close to the league minimum -- a total number of $1 million over the next two years sounds right. For purposes of arbitration, let's use Michael Bourn, who is a close-enough approximate of Tabata. Bourn played for $2.4 million in his first year of arbitration and is now currently on a $4.4 million deal. He figures to make around $7 million in 2012, his final season before free agency. That gives a total price of $13.8 million. Add in the first two years of Tabata's deal, and now you have a framework for what Tabata will sign. So let's say six years and $15 million.

(Update: Tabata will earn $14.25 million over the life of the contract, as ESPNDeportes.com reports, saying Tabata's deal increases his 2011 salary to $500,000, plus a $1 million signing bonus. Next season, Tabata will earn $750,000, and then jump to $1 million in 2013, $3 million in 2014, $4 million in 2015 and $4.5 million in 2016. The club options can total up to $37.25 million. ESPN Deportes also noted that Tabata and his agency, ACES Inc., parted ways due to contract negotiations.

"There were philosophical differences over some aspects of the contract, but there's still a lot of respect," a source said of the parting. "In the best interest of both, the parties decided to separate, without ruling out the possibility of working together again."

The Pirates are hoping to lock up Neil Walker to a similar deal that Tabata will be playing under. While a final agreement is not near, the two sites have had advanced talks, team and league sources told the Tribune-Review.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, talks stalled with center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who is already one of the best center fielders in the game and would certainly charge a higher price to sign a long-term deal. While it's not known how much McCutchen is asking for, it's possible he won't be as willing to trade future earnings for cost-certainty, or that the Pirates feel a long-term deal at a higher cost is beneficial.

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Posted on: July 13, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 5:32 am
 

Pirates looking beyond .500



By C. Trent Rosecrans


PHOENIX -- The number hounding Pittsburgh baseball since last September is 18.

"Our second baseman Neil Walker wears No. 18 and he's a heck of a player," Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan said. "Is that what you're talking about?"

That response generated laughs, and maybe Hanrahan is so used to the question that he had the stock answer ready. Who wouldn't try to deflect questions about 18 consecutive losing seasons? With a 47-43 record at the All-Star break, Pittsburgh is in position to make sure 19 doesn't become the new standard in U.S. professional sports.

"But really, talking about [Walker], it's fitting, he's from Pittsburgh, born and raised there, and he wears No. 18, maybe there's something there," Hanrahan said. Walker is part of an influx of young talent in Pittsburgh, along with the likes of the flame-throwing Hanrahan and center fielder Andrew McCutchen, 24.

At this week's All-Star Game, the Pirates had three representatives, as Hanrahan and McCutchen were joined by starter Kevin Correia.

"We have more guys that have opportunities to make the team [in the future]," McCutchen said. "Things are changing for us. We're not just here because someone had to represent the team, we're here because we earned the opportunity."

Although McCutchen was a late add to the team, many felt he shouldn't have just been an initial pick, but the National League's starting center fielder. The 24-year-old McCutchen is hitting .291 with 15 homers and 54 RBI and may be the best center fielder in the game.

In fact, it seemed McCutchen got more recognition for not making the team than he did when he finally made it. But that goes to show that even though the fans voting for the All-Star team didn't see fit to pick McCutchen, most observers knew an injustice when they saw it (well, as far as injustices and All-Star games go).

"We had Joel Hanrahan that made the team and he deserved it, but it felt like people were talking and talking and talking about me," McCutchen said. "It was definitely an eye-opener that people felt I should be here."

Many feel he should be back year after year, especially if the Pirates continue to improve, something many expect.

"You can tell there's a different feel over there this year," said the Reds' Jay Bruce. "You have Neil Walker, he's having a great year, Andrew McCutchen is being Andrew McCutchen, he's one of the most exciting players in the game. They're solid, man. They've changed the culture there. The new manager [Clint Hurdle]. They've done a really good job and I don't think they're going anywhere."

Bruce was part of a franchise that had gone nearly a decade without a winning season that stepped up and won its division. That's exactly what the Pirates are hoping to do as they trail the Brewers and Cardinals by just a game in the National League Central. The title is within reach, so there's no reason to just settle for .500.

"It's more for the fans than for us, because that's not our goal. It'd be great for the city, just for them to see that we've done better than we've done for the last 18 years," McCutchen said. "But after that comes and goes, what's next? Nobody's going to be satisfied with that. We're hungry for more, the fans are hungry for more. That's why we don't set our goals to just be over .500. We're hungry to win a championship. If you win a championship, you'll be over .500."

With the Steelers and Penguins having earned titles in recent years, the Pirates would like to turn Western Pennsylvania into the next New England with major titles in several sports.

"We all know the fans are passionate about their sports and knowledgeable about their sports, we said game one, if we start winning, it's going to be like the Steelers' games or the Penguins' games," Hanrahan said. "The fans are there, it's just getting them out of hiding so they aren't embarrassed to come out anymore."

They shouldn't be.

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Posted on: July 9, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:12 pm
 

McCutchen, Rolen added to NL All-Star team

By Danny Knobler

Stop complaining about Andrew McCutchen not making the National League All-Star team.

He is on the team. He was added Saturday night after Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun told Major League Baseball that he won't be able to play in Tuesday night's game in Phoenix. Braun has missed the last seven games because of a sore left leg.

Braun led all players in fan balloting for the NL team. McCutchen was 16th among outfielders in that same fan vote, but there was an immediate outcry when he was left off the team -- and another outcry when manager Bruce Bochy chose Andre Ethier to replace the injured Shane Victorino.

McCutchen certainly has numbers worthy of All-Star status, with a .291 batting average, 13 home runs, 49 RBI and 15 steals. He's an exciting player and has played a big part in the Pirates' better-than-expected first half.

Also, Scott Rolen will replace Chipper Jones.

Jones went on the disabled list Saturday and had surgery on a knee that has bothered him for two months. Rolen had next call on a spot because he finished just behind Jones in player balloting.

Rolen is hitting just .245 for the Reds, but third base is an unusually weak position in the National League this year.

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Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Offense rules in NL Central

By C. Trent Rosecrans
2011 All-Star Game

SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL West

The National League Central has the most teams, some of the game's brightest stars and perhaps its best story in the Pittsburgh Pirates. How deep is the talent in the NL Central? The last two men to win the National League MVP are first basemen in the division and neither makes this NL Central All-Star team. The pitching isn't too deep, at least in terms of starters, but this lineup can absolutely mash the ball.

Ramon HernandezC Ramon Hernandez, Reds: This one is a surprise, as Yadier Molina -- perhaps the game's best defensive catcher -- is an All-Star and a deserving one at that. But the nod here goes to the guy Reds manager Dusty Baker calls "Clutch Man Monie." On opening day, his three-run homer gave the Reds a walk-off victory and he's been producing at the plate since, including a ninth-inning homer yesterday against Brewers closer John Axford and the delivered the game's winning hit in the 13th inning Wednesday night in St. Louis. Hernandez's overall line -- .316/.374/.526 -- makes up for the difference between his defense and Molina's. Molina is hitting a respectable .279/.329/.408, but Clutch Man Monie has been money, especially for a player who is still essentially splitting time with Ryan Hanigan.

Prince Fielder1B Joey Votto, Reds: Votto was the National League MVP in 2010, but Prince Fielder's been the league's MVP for the first half of this season. Fielder is hitting .302/.418/.588 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI, tied for the most in the league. Votto's been good as well, but Fielder's power numbers put him over the top. So why is Votto listed here instead of Fielder? Because as I filled out the lineup card, I looked and had Votto as DH and Fielder at first. Anyone who has seen those two with gloves on their hand know you'd rather have Votto (especially with Starlin Castro also in the infield) playing the field. So Fielder wins the spot, but Votto gets the nod, if that makes sense.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Andrew McCutchen PIT CF
2 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B
3 Joey Votto CIN 1B
4 Prince Fielder MIL DH
5 Lance Berkman STL RF
6 Ryan Braun MIL LF
7 Aramis Ramirez CHI 3B
8 Ramon Hernandez CIN C
9 Starlin Castro CHI SS

Rickie Weeks2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Another Brewer nips a Red. While Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is far and away a better defensive player, Weeks is having an incredible offensive season so far. Weeks is hitting .275/.345/.476 with 15 home runs. Phillips has 10 more RBI, but that's not all that surprising considering Weeks is used as a leadoff man. 

Aramis Ramirez3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: It's easy for Ramirez to get lost among the Cubs' mounting losses, but the 33-year-old is having a solid season, which may be his last with the Cubs. The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012, with a $2 million buyout. The Ricketts family may want to find a cheaper option, but Ramirez has produced this year, hitting .298/.346/.495 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He's also playing a decent third base, much better than his reputation would suggest. 

Starlin CastroSS Starlin Castro, Cubs: Sure, he's a mess defensively, but the kid can absolutely rake. Castro is hitting .305/.334/.428 with two home runs and 38 RBI, while stealing 10 bags as well. The 21-year-old is the player the Cubs will build around in the future, and for good cause. He also doesn't have a lot of competition in this division. The Pirates' Ronny Cedeno has been good defensively, but lacking offensively. The Cardinals' Ryan Theriot is hitting well, but was a below-average defensive second baseman and now he's playing short and then there's Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been terrible offensively and defensively.

LF Ryan Braun, Brewers: Talk about a stacked offensive division -- in left field you've got Matt Holliday and Braun. Braun, though gets the nod. He's been healthy (of course, Holliday's problems may make his numbers more impressive) and produced, hitting .320/.402/559 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI. He's also stolen 19 bases to boot.

Andrew McCutchenCF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: If Bruce Bochy doesn't want him, I'll sure as heck take him as my starter in center. A Gold Glove-caliber fielder, plus a .291/.389/.491 slash line and 12 homers and 15 stolen bases. McCutchen should be in the MVP discussion with the season he's had. If it weren't for McCutchen, Michael Bourn would be the pick. Bourn's hitting .288/.350/.399 with 35 stolen bases. Between those two and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs, you could put together a heck of a relay team.

Lance BerkmanRF Lance Berkman, Cardinals: Sure he's a first baseman playing in the outfield, but who cares because he's made up for his atrocious defense with an offensive rebirth. The Cardinals gambled on Berkman this offseason and have been rewarded to the tune of .287/.399/.598 with a league-leading 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. The division also has Jay Bruce, Corey Hart and Hunter Pence, so it has right fielders to spare (not to mention Jon Jay, who played right field while Berkman was playing first for Albert Pujols.)

Prince FielderDH Prince Fielder, Brewers: This is a bit of a cheat, since I initially picked Fielder at first base. The decision here was between Votto and Holliday, and in a toss-up, I went with the reigning MVP, although either has a good case. Votto's hitting .319/.434/.497 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI, while Holliday is hitting .320/.417/.570 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI. Votto's seen fewer pitches to drive than he did a year ago, but is still producing. And once I was filling out the lineup card, I went with Votto at first base and Fielder as the DH.

Johnny CuetoSP Johnny Cueto, Reds: This division doesn't have a Cy Young candidate in the bunch, but does have several good young pitchers, including the 25-year-old Cueto, who started the season on the disabled list but is 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 starts this season. The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia is 8-4 with a 3.23 ERA and one of the best young left-handers in the game and Chicago's Matt Garza has been a victim of pitching for the Cubs, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and an xFIP of 2.86.

Sean MarshallRP Sean Marshall, Cubs: The Cubs' left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 43 in 41 1/3 innings, while walking just nine. His xFIP is 2.27 and he's induced ground balls on 60.4 percent of the balls put in play, a good characteristic for a middle reliever, who will often come into the game with runners on base. Apologies to the Reds' Bill Bray and the Cardinals' Jason Motte.

Joel HanrahanCL Joel Hanrahan, Pirates: Hanrahan leads the division in saves with 25 and hasn't blown a single save this season.  Of the eight runners he's inherited this year, none of scored. He has 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings and eight walks. He's allowed just six earned runs (good for a 1.37 ERA). The division has several good starters, including the Reds' Francisco Cordero (17 saves, 1.69 ERA), the Brewers' John Axford (23 saves, 2.90 ERA) and the Cardinals' Fernando Salas (15 saves, 2.41 ERA).

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Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:31 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Victorino lands on DL

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Shane VictorinoShane Victorino may have won MLB's "Final Vote" for the All-Star Game, but the Phillies center fielder won't be playing in Phoenix next week. The Phillies placed him on the 15-day disabled list Friday and called up infielder Pete Orr from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Victorino sprained a ligament in his right thumb and hasn't played since Sunday, so the move is retroactive to July 4.

Although Victorino won the fan's final vote, manager Bruce Bochy had the autonomy to replace Victorino. He selected the Dodgers' Andre Ethier, snubbing the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen for a second (or third) time. Ethier is hitting .313/.382/.451 with seven home runs and no stolen bases, while McCutchen is hitting .291/.389/.491 with 12 home runs and 15 RBI.

Victorino is hitting .303/.376/.524 with nine home runs this season.

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Pepper: Hurdle responds to Bochy comments



Barry Zito seeks his third straight win since coming off the DL while Jered Weaver looks to keep his hot streak going. Eye on Baseball Blogger Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss those storylines and more in this edition of Baseball Today.

By Evan Brunell


ALL-STAR CRITICISM: Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't happy about criticism that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Marlins manager Jack McKeon leveled about his choices on who made the All-Star roster. Hurdle was annoyed that Andrew McCutchen hadn't made the team while McKeon questioned the selection of Bochy's player in Tim Lincecum.

Well, Hurdle fired back after hearing Bochy's comments, specifically that Hurdle and McKeon never lobbied for their players while other managers did, so how can they speak out against the selections?

"I don't think lobbying is a part of what you do in that position," said Hurdle, who has experience with the All-Star Game, managing it in 2008 when he represented the Rockies. "He's earned that opportunity by winning the National League championship. I just have never lobbied, and I never got any calls from any other managers lobbying the year I did it."

Hurdle did apologize if his comments were hurtful to Bochy.

"I have the most professional respect for Boch," Hurdle said. "He's a better manager than I'll ever be. My feelings came from the heart. Diplomacy, I guess, wasn't at the top of my list that day, and I can understand that as well.

"I've been on the other end of that. I just know that I took it with a grain of salt, and he felt he made the best decision for the National League because that's his job to represent. I wish the National League nothing but the most success that we go out and win the game.

"We've known each other back to when we were 16 years old. I can understand he's disappointed in what I had to say. I can deal with that."

McCutchen still has a chance to get on the roster as Ryan Braun from Milwaukee is hobbled by an inflamed tendon, and if he cannot play this weekend, will pull out of the game. (MLB.com)

ALL-STAR INVITE: Albert Pujols says he would be honored to go to the All-Star Game should he be selected as a replacement. Pujols missed his chance at going to the game thanks to his wrist injury, but could still squeak in as players pull out because of injuries or other reasons. It's possible Pujols could replace Braun. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

DODGER DEBACLE: More information in the saga that just won't go away. MLB has filed a motion that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt should not have the right to see various documents that McCourt is requesting, alleging that releasing the documents would turn the bankruptcy court hearing into "a multi-ringed sideshow of mini-trials on his personal disputes." (Los Angeles Times)

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: Davey Johnson has never ordered a suicide squeeze, per his own recollections. That changed Wednesday night for the Nationals. Wilson Ramos dropped a successful bunt, allowing Mike Morse to cross the plate with what turned out to be the winning run. (CSN Washington)

WHAT EYE PROBLEM? Mike Stanton visited an ophthalmologist Wednesday and received eye drops to combat an eye infection that has sent him spiraling into a slump. He's received eye drops and apparently they worked as he slammed a walk-off home run against the Phillies on Wednesday night to give the Marlins a victory. (MLB.com)

YOU'RE NO PUJOLS: Apparently Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo is hoping to pull an Albert Pujols and get back on the field earlier than expected. After breaking his left thumb and staring at a diagnosis of eight-to-10 weeks out, Choo is telling friends he believes he can be back in early August. Given how fast Pujols returned, I suppose you can't rule it out, but ... well, don't go wagering on an early Choo return. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

YEAH AND NO: That was the Dodgers' Andre Ethier's answer when asked if he was pleased with his performance so far. Hitting a career-high .317 is great, but Ethier's seven home runs are a sudden loss of power for someone who slammed 31 two seasons ago. (Los Angeles Times)

WORKHORSE: Justin Verlander has made 37 consecutive starts of 100-plus pitches, which is tops in baseball all the way back to 1999, and probably a bit farther back, too. Second place boasts Felix Hernandez at 32 consecutive games from 2009-10, while Randy Johnson pops up multiple times. (Baseball-Reference)

UNSAVORY COMPARISON: Just three months into Jayson Werth's massive seven-year deal with Washington, and he's already being compared to another player who was a colossal bust on his own big deal, not that it was his fault for the team throwing ill-advised money at him. "Him" is Alfonso Soriano, and that's definitely company Werth does not want to be associated with. (Washington Post)

JONES HURTING: Chipper Jones admitted he shouldn't have played Tuesday after he received a cortisone shot for a meniscus tear as he is trying to avoid surgery. “I just didn’t feel right [Tuesday]," he said. "Not having that first step quickness, you favor it. It’s hard to stay on back of it right-handed, swinging the bat. Just one of those things we’ve got to continue to monitor and deal with.” For his part, Jones says he was perfectly fine for Wednesday's game. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

FIGGINS BENCHED: Finally. Chone Figgins has been benched and has easily become one of the largest albatrosses in the game. Figgin's replacement is Kyle Seager, who was promoted from the minors and will stay at third for the foreseeable future. (Seattle Times)

BARGAIN: Who were the best bargains signed as free agents in the winter? There are some worthy candidates in Bartolo Colon, Erik Bedard, Ryan Vogelsong and Brandon McCarthy. Fine seasons, all. But the best bargain is another pitcher, Phil Humber. Hard to disagree. (MLB Daily Dish)

CRAWFORD EN ROUTE: The Red Sox can't wait to get Carl Crawford back, and it looks as if that will happen after the first series back, which is in Tropicana Field. The Sox want to avoid Crawford playing on artificial turf right away, so a July 18 return in Baltimore appears likely (Providence Journal)

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Bochy upset at Hurdle, McKeon criticism

McCutchenBy Evan Brunell

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says Bruce Bochy, the manager for the NL All-Star team thanks to winning the World Series with the Giants last season, "whiffed" on not selecting Andrew McCutchen (pictured) to the team.

New Marlins skipper Jack McKeon also spoke out, wondering how Bochy could have justified taking Tim Lincecum with a 6-7 record. (Hint to Jack: His ERA is 3.14, and he's pitched better than that figure.)

Understandably, Bochy is a bit bruised from being called out.

“What’s bothered me are some comments made from other managers because now you start getting a little personal and [you] disparage other players,’’ Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. “I don’t think that’s what the game is about.”

Bochy also added that he never heard from Hurdle or McKeon before selecting the team, but other managers called to lobby for their players. "The two that are complaining I’ve known for 25 years," Bochy said. "I didn’t hear from them. Sure, that bothers me.”

The Giants skipper, who opted to take Mets right-fielder Carlos Beltran with his "at-large" pick instead of McCutchen, called the Pirates star a "great young player," but added that the 24-year-old's recent hitting streak came too late. McCutchen ended April with a .219/.330/.417 line, but his OPS has gone up in each month since. He's currently hitting .291/.390/.494 with 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases, absolutely worthy of selection.

“I could go to every team and there’s a guy who didn’t make it and has the numbers to be there,’’ Bochy said. “You don’t want to snub anybody.”

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