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Tag:Hiroki Kuroda
Posted on: November 18, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 7:45 pm
 

Dodgers unsure they can re-sign Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Dodgers may have locked up Matt Kemp on Friday, but the prospects for keeping free agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda seem dim.

"I think we're going to have a hard time signing him," general manager Ned Colletti told the Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck.

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Colletti said he's spoken to Kuroda's agent several times, but let those talks without a feeling of optimism in his chances of re-signing the pitcher.

"We have two issues. One is whether he wants to stay here and the other is whether we can afford to keep him," Colletti said. Colletti added the team's payroll needs to decrease from last season's $113 opening day payroll.

Kuroda was steadfast in his desire to remain a Dodger at the trade deadline last season, keeping him in Los Angeles. The Dodgers had hoped to re-sign Kuroda to a one-year deal, but he could return to his native Japan to play if the Dodgers can't meet his salary demands. Kuroda made $12 million in 2011, going 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA, down from the $15.4 million he made in 2010.

The Dodgers have already spoken to Jeff Francis, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano in an attempt to fill their fifth spot in the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and, presumably, Kuroda. Rookie Nathan Eovaldi is another possibility. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Sabathia heads SP



By Evan Brunell


As you're going to quickly realize after going through the position-by-position rankings of free agents, the market is rather poor this year. There are a couple of intriguing options at any spot, but the overall quality and depth is severely lacking. That could lead to a healthy trade market. But these players have to sign somewhere. Let's take a look at the top 20 starting pitchers and what to expect in the market...

Sabathia1. C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia may not fetch what Cliff Lee did a year ago, but there's no arguing against the lefty here as one of the best pitchers in the game. Despite his weight, Sabathia has been extraordinarily durable and there are zero questions surrounding his ability to pitch in a big-league game. He has yet to have a transcendent season as a Yankee, but is always right there in the discussion for Cy Young votes. It's hard to imagine Sabathia not doing better than four years and $92 million, which is what is remaining on his deal.
Potential teams: Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Red Sox

Wainwright2. Adam Wainwright: It's difficult to imagine the Cardinals declining their 2012 and 2013 options on Wainwright, but if they do, he'll get a pretty good deal in free agency. Waino may be coming off Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game before injury and all indications have Wainwright's rehab being completely normal. If he hit the market, he would do rather well for himself, even beyond the $21 million due him in the options. That, or he would get a pricey one-year deal to re-establish his value. If Waino hits the market, teams will be throwing themselves after him.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Nationals

Wilson3. C.J. Wilson: Wilson has the numbers for a significant salary after posting a 2.94 ERA on the season in 223 1/3 innings pitched, but many around the game view him as more of a mid-rotation starter, which could depress his value.  While Wilson will never be an ace, those that are calling him a No. 3/4 long-term seem to be going overboard a bit. Over the last two years, Wilson has proven he should be considered a No. 2/3 team and this is someone who figures to see his market heat up once push comes to shove. Wilson has long been linked to one of the Los Angeles' teams given that's where he grew up, but he'll be looking for as much money as he can get.
Potential teams: Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Nationals, Marlins

Kuroda4. Hiroki Kuroda: Kuroda is a fantastic pitcher, but also extremely loyal. He truly bleeds Dodger blue and many reports have him uninterested in pitching for any other MLB team. In fact, he is considering a return to Japan should the Dodgers not be interested, but they would be crazy to let Kuroda go. He's willing to work on a short-term contract and can be an important front-line starter as the Dodgers limp along in an uncertain financial future. Los Angeles could potentially see both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp depart as free agents after 2012, so the Dodgers will be motivated to get as strong a team together as they can for 2012.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Japan

Buerhle5. Mark Buehrle: The left-hander has sort of flown under the radar when it comes to free agency, but Buerhle could be in line for a big payday if he doesn't restrict himself. Buerhle has long thought to be only interested in playing for the White Sox or his hometown Cardinals. However, Chicago seems to want to "play the kids," and might prefer the compensation picks that would come with Buerhle. If the Cardinals extend Albert Pujols, they won't have the money for Buerhle, so he may have to look elsewhere for a job. He won't have difficulty finding one, topping 200 innings a season for the 11th straight season, starting as a rookie.
Potential teams: White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers

Jackson6. Edwin Jackson: Jackson has been around the block, already pitching for his sixth team despite being 28 years old. He'll be looking for security and money in what will be the richest contract he'll ever get, which could open up some players beyond the top teams. Jackson is a No. 4 starter who tantalizes with No. 3 potential, which will be enough to get teams to open up their checkbooks once the bigger names on the market are gone. Jackson may not be a sexy pitcher, but plenty of teams recognize the fact that without depth in the rotation, there's nothing.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Royals, Twins, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Rockies

Oswalt7. Roy Oswalt: Oswalt has threatened retirement and his back problems plagued his season in Philadelphia, so it would be a surprise to see his $16 million option exercised by the Phillies. Oswalt is certainly entering the phase in his career where he's going to be working on short-term injuries, especially with his back problems. It's difficult to imagine the righty deciding to hang up his cleats just yet, so should resurface somewhere on a one- or two-year deal. The Rangers, who figure to lose Wilson, could have interest in Oswalt to bring him back to Texas and have him mentor its young players.
Potential teams: Astros, Rangers, Phillies, Cardinals, Detroit, Angels, Dodgers

Dempster8. Ryan Dempster: Dempster holds a $14 million player option and it's hard to imagine him doing any better on the free-agent market on an annual basis, so you can expect this option to be picked up. If he does choose free agency, he'll command a contract similar to Edwin Jackson. The righty's ERA soared to 4.80 this season, but his peripherals were still strong, so you can bet on a bounceback season. Even though he will turn 35 next May, Dempster has shown to be very durable. There won't be any shortage of suitors for Dempster.
Potential teams: Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Marlins

Hisashi Iwakuma9. Hisashi Iwakuma: Iwakuma tried to come stateside last season, but when the Athletics won his rights via the posting system, talks fell apart between GM Billy Beane and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nomura. The lefty will be an actual free agent this season, not bound by posting rights, so any team will be able to talk with Iwakuma. That should help his market, and as a left-hander with strong control, would play well in a pitcher's park. Iwakuma will likely fly under the radar as teams like Boston and New York seek more sure things.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Nationals

Bedard10. Erik Bedard: Bedard slogged through yet another injury-plagued season but when he was on the mound, pitched rather well for the Mariners and Red Sox. His market will be depressed by his constant injuries, but at the same time, he's shown that he can still be an important part of the rotation and if he could get a full season's worth of starts for the first and only time since 2006, whatever deal he ends up signing will be a steal. Bedard will likely fall into the hands of a market that couldn't afford to sign any of the better free agents.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Brewers, Tigers

Vazquez11. Javier Vazquez: Will he retire or won't he? While it sounds like the righty could be departing, the second-half he had was incredible for Florida. It showed that Vazquez may finally return to normal after his second stint in New York went terribly and he looked kaput in the early going down south. If Vazquez does return, he's going to have a very short list of teams he will pitch for, and it may only have the Marlins on it. If he considers other teams, bet on it being in the NL.
Potential teams: Marlins, Nationals

Colon12. Bartolo Colon: Colon had a nice resurgence in New York before tailing off. What he did will easily secure him another go-round with a team, but it's probably not going to be back with New York. Given what his market will be, virtually any team could be in play for Colon. We're entering the part of the starting pitching market in which these pitchers will start seeing their market develop once the top names come off the board. From hereon out, you're more likely to see small-market teams or those with an outside shot at contending come into play for these type of pitchers.
Potential teams: Padres, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Indians, Angels, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros

Capuano13. Chris Capuano: Capuano's market got a bit of an uptick as the season wound to a close given the Red Sox's attempt to acquire him for the final game of the season. Other than coming back as a reliever late in the year for the Brewers last season, Capuano hasn't been heard of since 2007. The 33-year-old showed that he still had plenty left in the tank, and, in fact, had his best season yet according to the advanced pitching metric xFIP. Plenty of NL teams, and even some AL teams, will kick the tires on Cappy.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Padres, Cubs, Royals, Twins, Red Sox

Chen14. Bruce Chen: Like Capuano, Chen has rebuilt his value the last couple of years. He came off a solid 2010 with the Royals into a free-agent market that had no interest in him, probably because there wasn't any idea if Chen could repeat his season. Well, he did, so he should be looking at a couple two-year offers on his plate this winter, and could attract attention from some wannabe contenders. Chen is still a risk, but there's a lot to like here as a backend starter.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, Royals, Diamondbacks, Padres, Marlins, Athletics, Astros

Maholm15. Paul Maholm: The Pirates hold rights to Maholm for one year at $9.75 million, but Pittsburgh is expected to decline. That would be a mistake. While Maholm isn't quite worth that amount of money, it's not all that far off, plus it gives the club a solid lefty for the price of one season under contract. That's a no-brainer, but if he hits the market, might be able to finagle a three-year deal by virtue of being one of the youngest pitchers on the free-agent market.  The lefty has shown flashes of being a very good pitcher -- including this year, and one might even argue that Maholm belongs higher on this list.
Potential teams: Mets, Pirates, Angels, Royals, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels, Orioles

Harden16. Rich Harden: Harden, predictably, kept on having his injury problems but when he was on the field, actually pitched rather well with command not seen since 2005, when he was one of baseball's blossoming talents. Harden can still throw gas. He may no longer be able to stick as a starter despite teams giving him every chance possible, but he has the potential to impact a game whichever inning he ends up pitching in.
Potential teams: Athletics, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Marlins

Harang17. Aaron Harang: Harang pitched rather well for the Padres, but it's pretty easy to figure out why. His home park of Petco Park helped him immensely, so he probably won't find many offers much to his liking out on the market. He may not care, as he's made very clear that he wants to stay in San Diego. Should the Padres decline his $5 million option, he'll return -- just at a lower price.
Potential teams: Padres

Padilla18. Vicente Padilla: The Dodgers seemed to be high on Padilla last year, hoping he could serve as both a starter and reliever. That got cut short when Padilla began the season on the DL recovering from elbow surgery, then needing neck surgery mere weeks after coming off the DL. It appears as if Padilla has found a home in Los Angeles after signing a below-market deal to remain with the club. Likewise, the club also seems to like Padilla, who has struggled for years among allegations he's a heavy drinker and poor clubhouse personality, so a reunion with the cash-strapped Dodgers makes sense. A handful of other teams could be interested, but it's doubtful they will be any more attractive than L.A.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Astros, Giants, Marlins, Athletics

Francis19. Jeff Francis: At this point, Francis is pretty far off the "Jeffrey Franchise" label given to him when coming up with the Rockies. Francis rebuilt his value in Kansas City after missing all of 2009 and making 24 starts with Colorado in 2010. The lefty was able to put together 31 starts, even if he tallied just 183 innings. While he has strong control, his lack of a putaway pitch is his main drawback, and at this point, he's nothing more than a No. 4 starter. He'll find a spot this winter, but won't receive much money.
Potential teams: Royals, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Astros

Garcia20. Freddy Garcia: Garcia once looked like the man whose major-league career was dwindling. But now, after the comeback he's had the last two years -- and especially in New York, where he was a more than able starter for the Yankees -- he's assured himself of at least a few more years' run in baseball. The righty is strictly a back-of-the-rotation starter who could serve as a swingman. His willingness to serve in such a role with the Yankees could have him back as a long reliever.
Potential teams: Really, he could land with any team.

Bonus pick: Yu Darvish: If Darvish gets posted, it will give teams an opportunity to get the best pitcher on the free agent market. The only thing that will hold Darvish back is skepticsm as to how his game translates to America, but he is just 25 and put up video-game numbers in Japan, so even if teams talk Darvish down publicly, there will be no shortage of bids. He will also be attractive to teams who covet draft picks, as he won't cost one to sign. Anyone with funds will make a play, even teams who aren't currently competitive. Given his age, Darvish might even work best on a building club, as he would be able to debut on a team with minimal expectations and get his feet wet.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox, Royals, Yankees

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 3:53 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers

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: Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 82-79, third place in NL West, 11.5 games back
Manager: Don Mattingly
Best hitter: Matt Kemp -- .324/.399/.586, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 115 R, 40 SB
Best pitcher: Clayton Kershaw -- 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 248 K, 233 1/3 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Dodgers were mediocre at best and pretty bad at times for most of the 2011 season, but all of a sudden, something seemed to click. After an August 21 loss, the Dodgers sat 57-69. The rest of the way, they went 25-10. Simply: For the last five weeks of the season, the Dodgers were one of the best teams in baseball. It's just that it was too late and not many noticed -- including Joe Buck, who said "a bad Dodgers team" during the ALCS telecast Saturday night.

On the field, this Dodgers season will be remembered for two reasons. More specifically, two players. Matt Kemp would have the NL MVP in the bag had his teammates played better all season. He may lose out to Ryan Braun, though, due to many voters believing the winner of the individual award has to come from a team that was in contention. Clayton Kershaw won the pitching triple crown (led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts -- note: He tied Ian Kennedy in wins, but that still counts). He's the likely Cy Young Award winner in the NL.

Off the field, this Dodgers season has been completely and utterly marred by owner Frank McCourt. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, he's still the owner. At least as of this writing.

2012 AUDIT

R.I.P. series
Despite the strong close, the Dodgers are still in a state of limbo. There are several holes and the ownership mess makes it unknown as to how they can proceed. Fortunately, the nucleus is young and rather strong. Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra make a strong back-end duo in the bullpen. Kershaw is an elite ace. Kemp is one of the best all-around players in baseball. Chad Billingsley is fickle, but he's still only 27. The youth movement showed promise for the future, too, with Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands and Rubby De La Rosa (who had Tommy John surgery in August) showing they can be part of the solution in L.A. On the other hand, decisions need to be made with James Loney, Andre Ethier, catcher, second base and third base.

The franchise is not set up to be a slam-dunk contender, nor is it set up for futility in the near future. If the ownership situation would get settled very soon and the Dodgers could be a major player in free agency, they'd have a great shot at winning the NL West in 2012. It's just that we don't know how long the ownership situation will linger. Even if McCourt lost the team today, however, the approval process wouldn't be complete until it was too late to make several major plays at the likes of Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson.

FREE AGENTS

Rod Barajas, C
Jamey Carroll, 2B
Aaron Miles, 2B
Casey Blake, 3B (option declined)
Juan Rivera, OF
Jon Garland, SP (option declined)
Hiroki Kuroda, SP
Jonathan Broxton, RP
Mike MacDougal, RP
Vicente Padilla, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they can't act like a large-market team as long as the McCourt financial stuff continues. And that won't be resolved this offseason. Still, there is significant payroll coming off the books. The general direction of the franchise should be to try and compete with the younger players while letting the aging veterans walk, but a few exceptions can be made -- because it's very realistic that the Dodgers can compete in the NL West in 2012.
  • They can probably make a run at Jose Reyes. His zealous personality would fit perfectly in Hollywood, just as his bat would atop the order. Gordon could be moved to second base and hit second. So the lineup would start: Reyes, Gordon, Kemp, Ethier (well, maybe, we'll get to that ... ).
  • Play Juan Uribe full time at third base. He's not too old to bounce back from an injury-plagued campaign.
  • Dangle Ethier as a trade candidate. Even when he's at his best, he's not an elite player -- yet many seem to view him as one. He's a free agent at the end of 2012 and has had several episodes of complaining about the team and then backing off the comments. I wouldn't necessarily come out and say he's gone, but instead quietly shop him. If he can be dealt for prospects, Sands and Tony Gwynn Jr. are enough to fill out the outfield for the time being, while L.A. just treads water waiting for the ownership situation to be sorted out.
  • Give Loney one last chance. The 27 year old was one of the best hitters in the league in the last five weeks. If it was a fluke, the Dodgers can address first base next season. If the McCourt situation was different, a run at Fielder or Albert Pujols while selling high Loney would make a lot of sense, but I just don't think they could pull that off financially at this point.
  • Bring Kuroda back for one more year. He wants to stay in L.A. anyway, and with De La Rosa on the shelf recovering from surgery, there's a need for a stop-gap in the rotation. 
  • If there's any possible way to do so financially, Kemp needs a huge contract extension. He's only 27 and can anchor the franchise for a long time. He's also wildly popular, so this would at least send a message to the fans that the Dodgers are still very relevant.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 22, 2011 5:14 pm
 

On Deck: Braves, Red Sox off, but chase continues

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Matt MooreBig start for rookie: Rays rookie Matt Moore made a good second impression on Monday when he threw three innings in the Rays' win in Boston, and now he has quite the stage for his first big-league start -- at Yankee Stadium with the Rays hoping to gain a half-game on idle Boston. The Rays are 2.5 games behind the Red Sox and now they have company, too, as the Angels are also suddenly tied with the Rays behind the Red Sox. Moore was the top pitching prospect in baseball and went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A, striking out 208 batters in 144 2/3 innings. Moore actually pitched better for Triple-A Durham than he did Double-A Montgomery. He went 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in nine starts, striking out 79 of the 204 batters he faced, while walking 18. He faces Bartolo Colon, who made his MLB debut when Moore was 6. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

Back in it: The Angels appeared to have blown their playoff chance after losing two of three in Baltimore, but have bounced back to win their last two games in Toronto, while Tampa Bay and Boston have tread water. Thursday starter Ervin Santana is 11-12 with a 3.40 ERA, but has lost each of his last three starts, allowing five earned runs in each of his last two starts. Since his complete game victory at Rogers Centre on Aug. 12, the right-hander is 2-4 with a 4.47 ERA in seven starts, with the Angels going 3-4 in those games. Rookie right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who has thrown six or more innings in his last six starts and hasn't lost since Aug. 26. Los Angeles returns home after the game tonight to face the A's and the Rangers to finsih the season. Angels at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET

Surging Giants: The defending champs have won five of their last seven games, getting to within 3.5 games of the National League wild card, trailing the Braves and the Cardinals. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner starts for San Francisco and has won each of his last five starts, putting up a 1.04 ERA with batters hitting just .189/.256/.262 against him over that stretch. That includes a five-inning, three-hit performance against the Dodgers on Sept. 11. Since August, Dodger starter Hiroki Kuroda's record has improved, with him winning six of his nine starts. Giants at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

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

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Rough first inning for Kuroda

By Matt Snyder

Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda entered Monday having never allowed more than two home runs in a start in his entire career (Dylan Hernandez via Twitter). It only took the Nationals five hitters in the first inning to set a new mark Monday.

Ian Desmond led off the Nationals' half of the first inning with a home run. After a Rick Ankiel single and Ryan Zimmerman fly out, Michael Morse homered. Again, this tied a career high in home runs allowed in a single game for Kuroda and it was only four batters into his outing. Jayson Werth then followed with a home run of his own, meaning Kuroda had established a new career-low in terms of the longball in a single game.

At least he got it out of the way quickly.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Players of the Month: Avila, Lee



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every year August is the month when some teams pull away in the playoff race and others fade -- it's one of the biggest months of the season, even if it doesn't have the drama of September or the stakes of October. By the time August is done, there are few surprises -- what you see is what you get.

August's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Ortiz Lee
Miller Granderson Lee
Brunell Avila Kershaw
Rosecrans Votto Lee
Snyder Avila Lee
Fantasy Avila Lee

While one surprise team (Pittsburgh) fizzled, another (Arizona) sizzled. The Diamondbacks started August two games back in the NL West and now lead the defending champion Giants by six games. The D-Backs finished August on a nine-game winning streak -- they also had a seven-game winning streak earlier in the month. Kirk Gibson's club did have a six-game losing streak in the past 31 days, but the Giants have struggled all month, allowing some breathing distance for the D-Backs. 

This August has seen Atlanta's Dan Uggla go from a disappointment to, well, Dan Uggla. His hitting streak ended at 33 games, but his average increased from .206 at the end of July to .232 at the end of August. In all, he hit in 22 of 26 August games and went .340/.405/.670 with 10 homers as the Braves solidified their hold on the NL wild-card spot. 

Uggla was one of three players with 10 homers in the month, along with the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Rays' Evan Lognoria.

But it's Detroit's Alex Avila who gains the nod as our Batter of the Month.

His value to the Tigers lineup sealed the deal. Avila hit .360 with seven homers, 19 runs, 18 RBI and a 1.169 OPS in the August. Getting that kind of production from anywhere is incredible, but from a catcher it's just gravy. Even better, Avila bounced back from an awful July in which he hit .197 with a .584 OPS. Some may have thought his breakthrough season was coming to an end, but August was his biggest month of the season.

Meanwhile nine different pitchers picked up five wins. Some of the names (Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander) aren't surprising, while some (Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Romero) were young guns making their mark. Another was a pitcher (Hiroki Kuroda) finally getting run support and the last (Bruce Chen) was a total surprise.

But Lee was The Man. He started five games. He won five games. He only allowed two earned runs, which both came in the same game. He averaged nearly eight innings per start, saving the Phillies bullpen some extra work. He struck out nearly a batter per inning while allowing less than one baserunner per inning, meaning he kept the pressure off his defense. Basically, Lee did it all for the Phillies in August, and that's why he snags this Pitcher award for a second consecutive month.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July


Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
David Ortiz David Ortiz, Red Sox
Picking a player of the month wasn't easy, but David Ortiz's big two-run home run on Aug. 31 against the Yankees clinched it. Not exactly, but it helped. Even before that, Ortiz had a 1.308 August OPS that was the best by any major-league regular. In a month where no one player really stood out, he was definitely in the mix. And then he homered against the Yankees. So it's him.
Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Granderson's August catapulted him squarely into the AL MVP running. I love the symmetry, too: 29 RBI in August, and 29 runs scored. The runs led the majors and ribbies ranked second. Texas' Mike Napoli had a higher OPS (1.094-1.016) and deserves consideration, but if I picked one player to start a team with right now, it's Curtis G.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila has really come into his own in 2011. In August, he hit .372/.481/.721 with seven homers in 25 games. Did I mention he's a catcher? Avila's grip on the starting spot is so strong, he caught 18 consecutive games at one point during August. "He's been absolutely unbelievable," manager Jim Leyland told  MLive.com. "He's been tremendous. There's no question about it. Pretty impressive. Pretty darn impressive." Indeed.
Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds 
Votto's August was much like Votto himself -- quiet and excellent. The Reds first baseman hit .347/.483/.716 with nine homers and 19 RBI in August. The Reds aren't in the postseason race, so it's unlikely Votto will get much consideration for MVP, but he may have had a better season than he did a year ago when he won the award.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Have you seen his average and slugging percentage in the month? That's just sick, especially for a catcher tasked with scouting opposing hitters and working with his pitching staff day in and day out. The young backstop just keeps getting better for the Tigers, who meanwhile keep winning games and appear headed for the postseason.
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila wasn't the most productive hitter in Fantasy formats, but he was probably the most productive relative to his position. He lapped the field of catchers, hitting .360 with seven homers and 18 RBI. He also helped owners in formats that reward walks by drawing 19 free passes in his 109 plate appearances. While he didn't have the overall production of Granderson or Carlos Gonzalez, Avila helped his Fantasy owners immensely by providing elite-level production at a thin position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
In June, Cliff Lee went 5-0 and allowed just one run. In August, he went 5-0 and allowed two. That means he was slightly better in June than in August. It also means he's had two incredible months, and that he's my pitcher of the month -- again.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
This is why Philadelphia re-signed this guy. No, not to pitch in August. But to pitch in October LIKE he's pitched in August. Yeah, the 5-0 record in five starts grabs your attention, but that's just the beginning of the dominance. The 0.45 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the 39 strikeouts against just eight walks, the 0.78 WHIP ... until Wednesday night, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was my guy, but Lee's WHIP and strikeouts/walks ratio even tops Kershaw's (0.95, 39/10).
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw has been bandied about as one of the next great pitchers, but he's great right now, with a 5-1 August catapulting him into the Cy Young Award chase. Don't look now, but Kershaw has a better record (17-5 to 16-5) than Halladay, thrown more innings (198 2/3; 196 2/3) and has a lower ERA, with a 2.45 mark compared to 2.47 on the year. That's thanks to a month in which the lefty hurled 46 1/3 innings, checking in with a 1.55 ERA.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee, Phillies
Only three times in baseball history has a pitcher had two months in one season with five wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00 -- Walter Johnson in 1913, Bob Gibson in 1968 and Lee in 2011. Lee threw 551 pitches in the month and just one resulted in runs -- a two-run homer by Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on Aug. 17 in 9-2 Philadelphia victory.

Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
August was the second month this season where Lee's just been lights-out. This time around, he went 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in his five starts. His worst outing in the month came when Lee gave up three hits and two earned runs in a win against the first-place D-Backs.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies 
Lee made five starts in August and allowed zero runs in four of them, accomplishing the feat for the second time in three months. He won each of those five starts, averaging eight innings. He'll have his bouts with inconsistency, as was the case during an uneven July, but when he's on, he's arguably the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball. He showed it again in August.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

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



Posted on: August 2, 2011 5:13 pm
 

On Deck: Snakes in striking distance

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


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Knocking on the door: Everyone has assumed (myself included) the Giants could just walk from the trade deadline to the playoffs, but if you haven't looked at the National League West standings of late, the Arizona Diamondbacks are just a game behind the Giants. Tonight Tim Lincecum tries to put a little breathing room between the Giants and Diamondbacks. Lincecum hasn't allowed more than a run in a game since Independence Day, going 3-1 with a 1.08 ERA in his last four starts. He's faced the Diamondbacks just once this season, throwing eight shutout innings on May 10. Hudson, however, has struggled a little bit the last month, going 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA in five July starts, while batters are hitting .302/.350/.429 against him. He's 0-2 with a 4.97 ERA in two starts against San Francisco this season. Diamondbacks at Giants, 10:15 p.m.

Mat LatosHiroki KurodaBad luck club: Need further evidence against the win statistic as a way to judge a pitcher? How about Tuesday's matchup of San Diego's Mat Latos and Los Angeles' Hiroki Kuroda? The two have a combined 23 losses, despite both pithing too poorly. Over his last five starts, Latos has a 3.69 ERA and batters are hitting just .219/.287/.289 during that stretch. Still, he's 0-2 and the Padres are 1-4 in his five July starts. Four of Latos' five wins on the season came in a five-start stretch from May 15 to June 5, and during that time he gave up more hits and struck out fewer batters than he did in the five starts in July. And then there's 2011 Cy Unlucky in the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda, who sports a 3.11 ERA and a 6-13 record. Over his last 12 starts, he has a 3.38 EERA but is 1-10. Dodgers at Padres, 10:05 p.m. ET.

Central showdown: Could Milwaukee be pulling away in the National League Central? Winners of seven in a row, the Brewers have increased their lead in the division to 3 1/2 games, their largest lead of the season. Not only are the Brewers looking to extend a winning streak, so too is starter Shaun Marcum, who has won each of his last three starts. Marcum is 10-3 with a 3.33 ERA, allowing two runs in each of his last three starts. However, the Brewers must contend with Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia, who is 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA. In his only start against MIlwaukee this season, Garcia threw a two-hit shutout on May 6, striking out eight Brewers. Cardinals at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET.

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