Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 12:17 am
By Evan Brunell
The final week of All-Star voting is around the corner, and it can only be done online. That's the perfect opportunity for me to unveil my own All-Star ballot, and I'll be part of a record.
Fans so far have cast 250 million votes (which is misleading because each e-mail address can vote up to a whopping 25 times), which broke the record from 2009, with 223.4 million votes, as MLB.com reports.
Rosters will be unveiled on Sunday, July 3, but until then there are still plenty of races to be decided. I'm not really a fan of voting when the chance to do so opens in late April, because... come on. That's why this will be my first ballot, so let's take a ride through who I select and why. To vote yourself, simply click here.
All statistics prior to Thursday's games.
AMERICAN LEAGUE BALLOT
C: Alex Avila, Tigers -- Russell Martin is surely a lucky dude as he gets to play in New York, hit .233/.342/.407 (with much of his value tied up in a scorching April) and yet Alex Avila quietly puts up a .300/.373/.532 line in Detroit -- outhitting every other catcher in the game. Well, that stops now. Simply put: Anyone who votes for Martin clearly doesn't get what the All-Star Game is about: putting the best players on the field, not the players who play in a big media market.
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Do you really need an explanation? OK, let's give it a go. Gonzalez's .359 batting average is 24 points better than Jose Reyes', whose .335 mark leads the senior circuit. Gonzo also leads baseball with 69 RBI, 109 hits and 25 doubles. Oh, and those 15 home runs aren't bad at all. Overall, that's a scintillating .359/.410/.609 mark. Dude loves being out of Petco.
2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels -- Quick, who is the best offensive second baseman in the league? If you said Robinson Cano, you're right -- but it's not by much. Cano is currently raking at a .299/.344/.520 mark, but Kendrick is right there with a .305/.362/.498, barely a step behind. Kendrick is also the better defender at second base and in my version of the All-Star Game, defense counts too.
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians -- Apologies to Alexei Ramirez who actually grades out better once you factor in defense, but I can live with Cabrera's D (which isn't bad by any means) in order to get his bat in the lineup. The offensive difference is simply too great as Cabrera is delivering on the promise he showed in 2009 with a .298/.351/.498 mark with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. He actually has a similar offensive game to Jhonny Peralta, but the stolen bases were the clincher.
3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- Many have thought A-Rod's best days are behind him and while that's certainly true, he's still the best third baseman in the game, although that designation means a little less in what is a surprisingly weak class this year. All due respect to Rodriguez, who deserves the honor with 13 bombs and a .296/.375/.510 line. Kevin Youkilis actually appears to be the better hitter, but it's close and while I don't really trust Rodriguez's fielding metrics this year that show him as a top fielder, not many would argue he's worse than Youk in the field.
OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- .325/.470/.645. Next!
OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees -- Granderson is exploding into the 40-homer monster a few people (cough, me, cough) predicted after his trade to the Yankees. It took until his second season, but he's keeping pace with Bautista in the home run department, just two behind with 20. He's even hitting lefties this season, and once you add in his speed and fielding, it's all over.
OF: Alex Gordon, Royals -- There were several candidates for this position, most notably Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Gordon gets the call here with a 288/.356/.483 line, better Gardner and just under Ellsbury. While Gordon is a left fielder and Ellsbury is plying his trade in center, Ellsbury has bad fielding instincts which his speed hides quite a bit. Gordon, meanwhile, is a sound fielder, all the more impressive given he came up and began his career as a third baseman. Plus, someone from Kansas City's got to make it.
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox -- Big Papi is turning back the clock with his best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage since 2007, the last year he was truly the Big Bad Papi. At .313/.391/.586 with 17 homers, he's enjoying quite the renaissance and has earned this nomination.
NATIONAL LEAGUE BALLOT
C: Brian McCann, Braves -- Alex Avila is outhitting every catcher in the game as mentioned above, but Brian McCann is trying his hardest to take away that distinction with a .305/.380/.523 line. McCann, who already has an All-Star MVP to his name by knocking a bases-clearing double in the 2010 Game to finally give the NL a victory, deserves the chance to start for the first time in what will be his sixth All-Star Game.
1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- The loss of Albert Pujols makes this an easier crop to sift through, and Fielder comes away with the prize. Really, it's between the Brewer and Joey Votto, with apologies to Gaby Sanchez. While Votto's the better fielder (pun unintended), Prince's 20 home runs are 11 more than Votto and he's miles ahead of the 2010 NL MVP in power production at this point.
2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- Weeks joins Fielder in creating an all-Brewer right side of the infield, and he's deserving. Following up his breakout 2010 campaign, Weeks has gotten right back at it with a .287/.356/.498 line. He's also picking up his speed, already swiping seven bases after just 11 last season.
SS: Jose Reyes, Mets -- This one just isn't close at all; Reyes' 4.2 Wins Above Replacement (which combines offense, defense and baserunning) is miles ahead of the next best mark at the position, held by both Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez. Reyes is simply doing it all in a season that could net him a $150 million contract in the offseason, and is just one of three shortstops with at least 20 stolen bases. Naturally, he leads all of them with 26.
3B: Chase Headley, Padres -- I didn't quite realize how unimpressive the third-base crop was in the NL, but none separate themselves from the pack. I suppose that's what happens when Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright and Pablo Sandoval all knock themselves out of the running due to being injured. Ryan Roberts has one of the best seasons of any NL third baseman that qualifies for the batting title, but his entire value with the bat is packed into April. So Headley it is, who is hitting .295/.389/.402, a pleasantly surprising number for the former left fielder who is enjoying his best season so far.
OF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Kemp is already a member of the 20/20 club and has put to rest any ideas that he doesn't care enough with an impressive .328/.420/.620 line, with his slugging percentage leading all of the NL. He's added 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 58 RBI as a major, major reason the Dodgers can still kinda/sorta call themselves contenders after injuries have decimated their team.
OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals -- I don't think Holliday misses Coors Field, do you? He definitely doesn't miss the Coliseum in Oakland or whatever the heck it's called these days. He's doing just fine in St. Louis with a .335/.439/.555 line. I have to admit, I didn't realize Holliday was hitting this well. Of all the big outfield boppers in the game, he flies under the radar the most.
OF: Shane Victorino, Phillies -- I feel as if no matter who I pick here, I'm leaving off quite a few deserving candidates. It's true -- where is Ryan Braun? Lance Berkman? Andrew McCutchen? Justin Upton? But I'm loving the year Victorino is having with a .296/.362/.511 line with 11 stolen bases in 58 games after missing time due to injury. (Kemp, for comparison, has played in 76 games.) Add in his excellent fielding and smart baserunning, and Victorino is bringing the whole package this year.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Adrian Gonzalez, AL Central, AL Central, AL East, AL East, AL West, Alex Avila, Alex Avila, Alex Gordon, Alex Gordon, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, All-Star Game, All-Star GameAL West, Angels, Angels, Asdrubal Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera, Blue Jays, Blue Jays, Braves, Braves, Brewers, Brewers, Brian McCann, Brian McCann, Cardinals, Cardinals, Chase Headley, Chase Headley, Curtis Granderson, Curtis Granderson, David Ortiz, David Ortiz, Dodgers, Dodgers, Howie Kendrick, Howie Kendrick, Indians, Indians, Jose Bautista, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Jose Reyes, Matt Holliday, Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, Matt Kemp, Mets, Mets, NL Central, NL Central, NL East, NL East, NL West, NL West, Padres, Padres, Phillies, Phillies, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder, Red Sox, Red Sox, Red Sox, Red Sox, Rickie Weeks, Rickie Weeks, Royals, Royals, Shane Victorino, Shane Victorino, Tigers, Tigers, Yankees, Yankees, Yankees, Yankees
Posted on: June 23, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:33 pm
By Evan Brunell
Josh Hamilton thinks he knows why he struggles in day games.
It's his blue eyes.
"I ask guys all the time" as to whether they struggle in day games, Hamilton told ESPN 103.3 FM" "Guys with blue eyes, brown eyes, whatever ... and guys with blue eyes have a tough time."Hamilton is hitting .297/.360/.513 in his follow-up campaign to his MVP season, which is an impressive mark but quite a bit off his line from 2010. Yet, if you look at just his night numbers, he's tossing up silly numbers with a .376/.415/.661 line in 118 PA. His day numbers are a different story, as he's flailing to the tune of a .112/.246/.184 mark in 57 PA. Hamilton had a wide split in 2010 too, but it wasn't as severe: .286/.345/.474 in the day and .384/.433/.688 at night.
"It's just hard for me to see [at the plate] in the daytime," Hamilton said. "It's just what it is. Try to go up [to the plate] squinting and see a white ball while the sun is shining right off the plate, you know, and beaming right up in your face."
The solution could be in a pair of sunglasses that he used in the field last season, but could not find. Until now.
"Hopefully that'll help my eyes relax enough to take them off and bat and put them on again," Hamilton said.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, AL Central, AL East, AL West, Alex Avila, Alex Gordon, Alex Rodriguez, All-Star Game, Angels, Asdrubal Cabrera, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Brian McCann, Cardinals, Chase Headley, Curtis Granderson, David Ortiz, Dodgers, Howie Kendrick, Indians, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, Mets, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Padres, Phillies, Prince Fielder, Red Sox, Red Sox, Rickie Weeks, Royals, Shane Victorino, Tigers, Yankees, Yankees
Posted on: April 2, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2011 11:56 pm
By Evan Brunell
Today felt like baseball season with a full slate of games, all in the afternoon and night. It was a fun day to pig out if you're a baseball fan, which we all are 'round these parts.
Chase Headley, Padres -- Headley broke through with some fireworks Saturday, netting four RBI on the night including a two-run shot in the ninth to cap off an 11-3 victory. Ryan Ludwick had some fun in front of Headley, scoring four times. Headley isn't known for a stick, so it'll be interesting to see if his power sticks.
Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays -- Drabek had such filthy stuff that Denard Span would say afterwords it was a relief that the Twins didn't end up no-hit. Drabek went seven strong, whiffing seven, walking three and giving up a lone hit and earned run. Drabek is quite the exciting young hitter and it appears the Jays are well on their way toward replacing Roy Halladay -- as much as anyone can, I suppose.
Freddy Sanchez, Giants (pictured) -- Freddy celebrated a one-year extension by delivering a 3-for-4 night, adding a walk while scoring two runs and banging home 3 RBI. Sanchez delivered a double and home run -- things you don't commonly see Sanchez do in a single game -- as the Giants routed the Dodgers 10-0.
John Lackey, Red Sox -- Not exactly the way you want to start the second year of a much-maligned five-year contract. Lackey, after struggling last season in his first year (despite a nice run to finish the year), really came through with a clunker in going just 3 2/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and a staggering nine runs, walking two and whiffing three. The big hit of the night was an Adrian Beltre grand slam after intentionally walking Josh Hamilton. Just not a good night.
Michael Bourn, Astros -- Bourn had the most pitiful batting line on the night, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Not exactly what you want from your leadoff man. Bourn is a wizard with the glove and can outsteal anyone in the majors provided he's on base, which will be something to track.
Francisco Liriano, Twins -- Maybe Minnesota was smart after all to table talks on a long-term extension. Liriano didn't look good at all in spring training and that carried into the season with four runs coughed up in 4 1/3 innings, struggling to locate the ball with five walks and three whiffs, throwing 90 pitches. Not the way to endear yourself to your employers or other teams on the prowl such as the Yankees.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 12:18 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 12:22 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
If the Padres are to repeat their surprising 2010 win total, they'll need a repeat performance from their pitching staff, but they'll also need to score some runs. That task wasn't made easier when they traded Adrian Gonzalez in December.
Among current Padres offensive players, 26-year-old third baseman Chase Headley has the best chance to move into the Padres' need for an offensive bell cow. Headley has hit .264/.335/.375 in his short career and doesn't fit into the typical role of a slugger at third base, but he was still second to Gonzalez among Padres batters with a 4.6 WAR (from FanGraphs.com) last season. He'll never be a bopper, but few would in spacious Petco Park.
It's no coincidence that as Headley struggled at the end of last season -- striking out 42 times in his last 128 at-bats, while hitting .211 -- the Padres floundered and gave up their lead in the National League West. This spring the switch hitter has looked better from the right side, where he's struggled in the past, and could be on his way to becoming a consistent force in the Padres lineup, which is something they desperately need.
PLAYER ORACLECito Gaston played with Darrell Evans for the 1975 Atlanta Braves
Darrell Evans played with Kent Mercker for the 1989 Atlanta Braves
Kent Mercker played with Chris Denorifa for the 2005 Cincinnati Reds
You may not remember a 1983 TV series called Masquerade, a sort of mash-up between Mission: Impossible and The Love Boat, which had an intelligence agency use ordinary civilians for their specialized skills. Kind of like Chuck, but much less watchable.
Like The Love Boat, the series used well-known actors each week as part of its revolving door cast. The third episode of the series, "Girls for Sale" was broadcast Dec. 29, 1983, and featured Padres first baseman Steve Garvey.
Giving me less confidence in this super-secret government agency is they apparently recruited Garvey for his… arm?
Hey, whatever you need to stop ninjas. It's a good thing Steve never went anywhere without his trust first baseman's mitt. I'm sure he's wearing a cup, too.
Garey also appeared in Baywatch and Star Trek: the Next Generation among other acting credits.
Hat tip to Sons of Steve Garvey.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 5:22 pm
With arbitration figures being exchanged this week, many players not yet under contract for 2011 but still tied to a team will finally learn how much cash is coming their way.
Chief among those are names such as Brad Ziegler, Jay Bruce, Armando Galarraga and Chase Headley. They are four of 20 who qualify as Super Twos, otherwise known as players who qualify for arbitration even without the requisite three years of service time. Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, players within the top 17 percent of service time under three years qualify for an extra year of arbitration. This opens the door for more players to receive money, which is never a bad thing especially when dealing with those who are under team control and could see arbitration as the most money they'd ever make playing the game.
But is Super Two good for the game?
There are detriments to the Super Two system, however. It is capable of being gamed, and more and more teams are trying to find a way around the Super Two by holding top prospects down on the farm that may otherwise be ready for the majors. Take Rookie of the Year victor Buster Posey (pictured). Posey had nothing left to prove in the minors, but Brian Sabean gamely tried to convince everyone he needed more seasoning. As a result, Posey stayed down until May 29 before being recalled. (There was thought to be a similar gaming of the system for Stephen Strasburg.)
Had the Giants not been trying to avoid Posey receiving Super Two status -- spiking his salary a year ahead of schedule and likely putting his earnings among the elite in the year prior to free agency -- it's possible Posey could have opened the season at catcher. Then perhaps the Giants wouldn't have needed the last day to squeak in the playoffs with Posey's bat bolstering what was already anemic with him in the lineup. Being promoted earlier would have also been good for baseball, who could have marketed Posey earlier and built a brand around him.
Look at the Padres, who paid out $2.325 million to Chase Headley, who qualified for Super Two by a day. Instead of getting another year of $450,000 out of Headley, San Diego now sees his price spike, and that will have ramifications over the rest of his arbitration eligibility. On a team where every penny means a lot, it can't thrill GM Jed Hoyer to throw that kind of cash at Headley.
The Headley example is exactly why teams attempt to game the system -- and no, the Braves shouldn't be patted on the back for doing exactly what they should have done by breaking camp with Jason Heyward. As long as Super Two exists, top prospects will be held back to keep their price tag down.
What would change if the Super Two were abolished?
Those thinking the system would no longer be gamed are sadly mistaken. Gaming the system would continue, except this time it would be the three-year cutoff that would be gamed. However, that cutoff is far easier to game and could be done by simply leaving players off the active roster for a matter of weeks, not months. Players need 172 days of service time to qualify as a full season and there are 182 days to be had. That's exactly 11 days, or just under two weeks. Buster Posey could have been playing in San Francisco by mid-April instead of the end of May. That's the type of gaming the system I think a lot of people and teams could live with.
Ah, but the flip side: the player is now tied to the team an extra year at a minimum salary. This would raise free-agent ages as well as give teams more opportunities to cut ties with players without a bump in salary that instantly pays off all these years of hard work and dedication.
It's a tradeoff, and fans all too often fall on the side of the team without realizing that this rule change would give owners more money to pocket. These billionaires already have more money than they know what to do with -- an extra $2 million going toward paying off taxes can be far better utilized to set up a player for life and give his children college educations.
Those that qualify for Super Twos tend to be the "middling" types -- the middle reliever, the average offensive contributor. Sure, there are exceptions such as Jay Bruce, but he's the exception. Those that are held back to avoid Super Two status tend to be those drafted high, with ample signing bonuses that are already miles ahead of the average baseball player in trying to make ends meet.
The Super Two designation is going to be a part of the next round of CBA bargaining. You can bet GMs will push for the abolition as it will allow them an extra year of minimum-salary control for a prospect along with giving the team a shot in the arm by being able to promote top prospects a year earlier.
The Players Association, on the other hand, won't be interested in changing things. The aim of the union is to make its constituents money, and the Super Two does accomplish that despite its failings.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: November 4, 2010 4:19 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:32 pm
Brad Ziegler, the right-handed sidearmed reliever, is the lucky winner of the Super Two cutoff date this year with two years, 122 days of service time, according to the list sent to agents by the MLB Players Association. Super Two qualify for salary arbitration early.
The cutoff this season is lower than it has been in recent years, perhaps indicating that teams are getting more and more careful about how soon they bring up players in attempts to put off arbitration as long as possible.
Leading the list is Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, who has already been signed to a long-term deal, a deal that's looking better and better by the day for the Rays.
Here's the list:
Player 2009 Club Total Service
Evan Longoria Tampa Bay 2.170
Jim Johnson Baltimore 2.165
Felipe Paulino Houston 2.163
Josh Fields Kansas City 2.159
Kyle Kendrick Philadelphia 2.159
Sean White Seattle 2.156
Ian Stewart Colorado 2.154
Dana Eveland* Pittsburgh 2.152
Luke Hochevar Kansas City 2.151
Armando Galarraga Detroit 2.148
Burke Badenhop Florida 2.143
Ross Ohlendorf Pittsburgh 2.139
Chris Perez Cleveland 2.136
Alberto Gonzalez Washington 2.135
Jensen Lewis Cleveland 2.133
Darren O'Day Texas 2.128
Jay Bruce Cincinnati 2.125
Chase Headley San Diego 2.123
Travis Buck Oakland 2.123
Brad Ziegler Oakland 2.122
It appears that this is the best news for Bruce, O'Day and Perez, who will likely get the biggest bumps in salary from 2010 to 2011.
Of all those players, Bruce (pictured) may have had the best season, hitting .281/.353/.493 with 25 home runs. Perez recorded 23 saves and had a 1.71 ERA as the closer for the Indians once Kerry Wood was sent to the Yankees. O'Day was a valuable member of the Rangers' bullpen, appearing in 72 regular-season games and 11 postseason games. During the Regular season, he had a 2.03 ERA.
All three of those players made $440,000 or less last season.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Alberto Gonzalez, Armando Galarraga, Astros, Athletics, Brad Ziegler, Burke Badenhop, Chase Headley, Chris Perez, Dana Eveland, Darren O'Day, Evan Longoria, Felipe Paulino, Hot Stove League, Ian Stewart, Indians, Jay Bruce, Jensen Lewis, Jim Johnson, Josh Fields, Kyle Kendrick, Luke Hochevar, Mariners, Marlins, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Ross Ohlendorf, Royals, Sean White, Tigers, Travis Buck