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Tag:Torii Hunter
Posted on: July 4, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Picking the game's best defensive players

Alcides Escobar

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The All-Star Game is supposed to showcase the game's best players, but when it comes to position players, we all know offense trumps all. The players with the best offensive numbers are headed to Phoenix next week.

Defense gets its due after the season with the Gold Gloves, but too often those are rooted in offensive numbers, as well. So, while everyone is focused on batting average, home run totals and OPS, I prefer to look at the guys getting it done on D.

Of course, one of the reasons we focus on offense is it's just easier to look at and interpret those numbers. The quantification of baseball defense is still one of the great last frontiers of statistical analysis -- there are attempts at advanced numbers measuring defense and even some very good, useful ones. But even with UZR/150, plus/minus, runs saved and range factor, it's tough to fully appreciate defense without watching a player day-in and day-out.

Even the best metrics can't tell the whole story, but they do have a start. One of the best stats for defense, UZR -- or Ultimate Zone Rating -- doesn't exactly tell  the whole story even after an entire season's worth of data. At this point, UZR gives just a snapshot. That's why I'll use UZR/150 -- UZR rate per 150 games. I also looked at John Dewan's plus/minus system and runs saved stats.

We here at Eye On Baseball watch a lot of baseball, but it's still tough to get a real good handle on all the defensive players in baseball, so I'll use my observations plus statistics, both advanced and traditional in picking the game's best fielders.

Matt WietersC: Catcher is one of the toughest positions to judge -- or at least quantify -- because it's so much different than all the other positions on the field. Catcher is easily the most demanding defensive position on the field. The likes of Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz are known as the gold standard for catcher's defense, but I'm going with a young player who has showed incredible improvement and proven to be one of the best in the game, and that's Baltimore's Matt Wieters.

Check out this play from April, it's one that's stuck with me all year, as Wieters blocks the plate from Derek Jeter.

Adrian Gonzalez1B: Defense is often taken for granted at first base because it's assumed it's not an important position and just a place to stick a slugger. Well, Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is a slugger, but he's also one of the game's best all-around players. A good first baseman -- and Gonzalez is certainly that -- makes the entire defense better. He leads the way in UZR/150 at 11.6 and has just two errors this season. 

Brandon Phillips2B: This one is tough for me, because I believe in the numbers, but I also believe in my eyes. Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist is beloved by the advanced metrics, logging a 20.4 UZR/150 and a +11 plus/minus, easily the best at second base in both categories. However, it's tough to go against the Reds' Brandon Phillips, who I've seen most days for the last four years. Phillips not only makes the spectacular plays, but he also makes the routine ones. The two-time Gold Glove winner has just two errors to Zobrist's five. Dustin Pedroia is also in the conversation, with a +4 plus/minus and an 18.5 UZR/150, but my eyes tell me it's tough to play much better at second base than Phillips. In this one, I'm going with my gut (it's bigger than my brain anyway) and picking Phillips.

Alcides EscobarSS: It's tough to imagine the difference the Royals see in defense at shortstop this season, going from one of the game's worst defenders in Yuniesky Betancourt to Alcides Escobar, who has been exceptional at short (the opposite could be said about the Brewers). Escobar has seven errors -- just two fewer than Betancourt, but his range is outstanding. He leads all shortstop with 285 assists and second with 58 double plays. As for the advanced metrics, he and Troy Tulowitzki both grade out with a 14.2 UZR/150 and Escobar edges the Rockies' shortstop in Dewan's plus/minus, +17 to +13. Tulowitzki is by far a better all-around player, but Escobar gets the nod here by the slightest of margins.

Alex Rodriguez3B: Alex Rodriguez may be the most scrutinized player of all time, so it's easy to forget just how great of a player he's been throughout his career. Unlike many, his offensive numbers seem to overshadow his defensive prowess. It seems like this season he's been completely healthy for the first time in years and it's showing up in his play at third base. Rodriguez's 21.2 UZR/150 is the best in the game at third base and he has seven fewer errors than the next guy on the list, Adrian Beltre of the Rangers.

Brett GardnerLF: This may be the easiest of all the positional picks, as Brett Gardner has played a nearly flawless left field for the Yankees this season. Gardner combines great speed with good fundamentals to become one of the best defensive players in the game. Gardner dominated the advanced stats, scoring +19 in the Dewan plus/minus system and has a 38.1 UZR/150. He has one error and four assists, as his reputation keeps runners close. Sam Fuld may make more highlights, but Gardner makes more plays.

Shane VictorinoCF: Shane Victorino has played a flawless center field this season, at least according to the official scorers around baseball. Victorino doesn't have an error this season and also has the best UZR/150 of any center fielder in the game at 24.3. Dewan's plus/minus prefers Minnesota's Denard Span, but I'm sticking with the Flying Hawaiian.

Torii HunterRF: Torii Hunter is one of the game's all-time best defensive players, but moved to a new position last season with the emergence of Peter Bourjos in center field. Hunter's gone from one of the game's great defensive center fielders to maybe its best right fielder. Hunter has a +16 in Dewan's plus/minus, while UZR/150 likes him less than Shin-Soo Choo or J.D. Drew. Add in the error-less performance this season, gets the nod. We've seen so many of his great catchers over the years, but he's been able to show off his arm in right this season, picking up eight assists so far this season.

Mark BuehrleP: White Sox starter Mark Buehrle has won the last two American League Gold Gloves as a pitcher and certainly deserves those honors. His 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame belies a very good athlete, who covers a lot of ground in front of his mound. The left-hander then makes strong, accurate throws, just as you'd expect from a pitcher.



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Posted on: June 22, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Hunter crashes into wall on daring play

By Evan Brunell

Torii Hunter made a fantastic play on Wednesday, snaring a flyball in mid-air just before crashing into the wall.

He immediately hit the deck in obvious pain and left the game. The Los Angeles Times later reported on Twitter that Hunter bruised his left rib and is day to day. Check out the video below.



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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 9, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Angels shuffle batting order, move Hunter to #2

HunterBy Evan Brunell

The Angels are slogging along after losing five straight and falling fast out of the division race -- 5 1/2 games behind the Rangers. For Los Angeles to turn things around, it has to start with the offense.

As the Orange County Register reports, the Angels tinkered with their lineup Wednesday night, removing Torii Hunter from the cleanup spot and sliding him into the second spot in the order, where he went 1-for-4 in yet another loss.

"Trying to find the right groupings and right chemistry is much more difficult when you have a number of guys who aren't doing what you project," manager Mike Scioscia said of the lineup change.

"It's a challenge. ... We're going to take a look at what might be drastic changes in the way we put our groupings together until we can get out of this quagmire."

The Angels' hitters haven't performed up to expectations, and while losing Kendrys Morales for the entire season doesn't help matters, Scioscia firmly believes that if everyone else was hitting up to expectations the Angels would be contending. While Howie Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo (who batted third on Wednesday) have outperformed expectations to date, Hunter and Vernon Wells have been abominable. Also, catching prospect Hank Conger has yet to catch fire with the bat. As a result, LA has scored just 13 runs in the last seven games and hasn't scored more than three since May 30. That prompted the shakeup that also saw Abreu -- who has been on fire to raise his overall line to .289/.402/.390 -- move to cleanup.

"When [Scioscia] came to me and said, 'What do you think about hitting second?' I said, 'What?'" Hunter said with a laugh. "I told him, 'I think it's kind of good that you're stirring it up like that.' It's been kind of silent.

"Yeah, I like the idea of stirring up the lineup. It couldn't be any worse. These past four games were the worst. ... If I was the manager, I'd probably do that, too."

Hunter's struggles, Scioscia said, comes from his swing becoming "too big" in an attempt to drive the ball and be the source of power the Angels need. Putting him at second relieves that pressure and would allow him to focus on squaring the ball up.

Even if Hunter and Wells turn their seasons around, is Scioscia reaching by thinking the Angels would be in contention?

"We're not shooting rainbows anywhere to fluff this," Scioscia said. "We see realistic potential in this team."

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 9, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 11:32 am
 

Pepper: Reyes a fit for BoSox; Guillen draft saga


What is the reason behind so many near no-hitters recently? Will the Red Sox improve to 6-0 this season at Yankee Stadium? Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi with the answers.

By Evan Brunell


REYES TO RED SOX? Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron calls Jed Lowrie "solid" and Marco Scutaro "pretty good" -- "but the talent [Reyes] possesses is very intriguing," he says.

Cameron, who was teammates with Reyes a few seasons ago and still keeps in touch, believes the shortstop could be a major part of a Boston squad looking to win the World Series.

"It's a different animal here [with the Red Sox]," Cameron said. "In Boston, there's one team there and the primary focus is nothing else but [a freaking] title. [But] I think they would love him because of the way he plays. Just the energy, man."

Reyes is an impending free agent, and with Lowrie, Scutaro and top prospect Jose Iglesias in the fold, it's difficult to imagine the Red Sox striking for Reyes. However, if the money and inclination is there, it's tough to deny that Reyes would provide an immediate boon to Boston. (New York Post)

One question, though: is investing in Reyes really a good idea? Vince Gennaro, a baseball economics author, says it would be foolhardy for the Mets -- or any other team for that matter -- to invest big dollars in a player having a career year.

"The odds that this is the new Jose Reyes and that he's going to have a five-year run that even remotely resembles this are minuscule," Gennaro said. "But that's not where the [New York] fan base is going to come from. They're going to look at this as one more sign, if he gets dealt, of a lack of commitment by ownership." (Wall Street Journal)

DRAFT RESULTS: Which teams had the best drafts of the just-concluded MLB draft? Those in the know tap the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Rays, Padres and Red Sox. (MLB.com)

PAY UP: Dodgers team owner Frank McCourt continues to scratch and claw to keep his team, and will be able to make June 15 payroll. That will allow him to still have the team during a court hearing on June 22 wto determine if ex-wife Jamie McCourt has a legal right to block the TV deal that would solve McCourt's financial problems. (USA Today)

OZZIE'S BEEF
: Ozzie Guillen doesn't have much patience for actor Sean Penn, who is fighting against U.S. perceptions that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is a dictator. The incredulous Guillen responded to an editorial Penn wrote recently and invited him to live in Venezuela for a year and see if his mind changes as to whether Chavez is good for the country or not. (Big League Stew)

ONEY'S BEEF: Ozzie's son, Oney, takes after his father in not being afraid to pop off. The ex-White Sox employee sarcastically tweeted that it was no surprise the White Sox drafted a black player with their first-round pick -- hinting at racial undertones of GM Kenny Williams. He later denied the claims, but it's tough to believe him especially when fellow brother Ozney went undrafted. (Chicago Sun-Times)

OZNEY'S PLIGHT: So Ozney probably won't ever play in the White Sox system if he ever enters professional baseball. Williams skated through the minefield of addressing the issue by saying he will not sign Ozney as an undrafted free agent because of the potential for distractions. In addition, Williams adds, there were no personal motivations not to draft Ozney because the White Sox can't afford to let personal issues get in the way of drafting players. (Chicago Tribune)

LOVE THE GLOVE: Remember how attached you were to your baseball glove as a kid? Well, baseball players haven't really changed. Torii Hunter inidcates he is especially fond of his gloves in a wide-ranging article dedicated to the love players show for their gloves. Hunter currently calls his glove Coco and formerly called his glove Sheila, Vanity, Susan and Delicious. He rarely lets his gloves out of sight.  "Every once in a while during batting practice, while I'm hitting, I'll turn around and look at my glove and say, 'Are you OK?' " Hunter says. "It's very personal. That glove was something that got me to the big leagues. I make a living with it." (Los Angeles Times)

NO BLOCKBUSTER: Don't expect the Phillies to make a major move at the trade deadline, GM Ruben Amaro says. Part of that is because of the quality of the club, but a bigger part has to do with the minimal dollars the Phillies have before they hit the luxury tax threshold. Skipper Charlie Manuel wants a bat, but if he gets one, it will be a complementary one. (CSN Philly)

IMPENDING PROMOTION? Lots of players are receiving the call to the majors now that the Super 2 deadline is firmly done with. But don't bet on Cubs' center fielder Brett Jackson arriving anytime soon, who is slumping after suffering a finger injury. (MLB.com)

TWO-FACED: Ohh, A-Rod... you just don't stop giving everyone ammunition, do you? Rodriguez signed on to be spokesperson for coconut water company Vita Coco despite investing copious amounts of money with rival Zico. "It's a hell of a lot more money than I ever invested in the company," confused Zico CEO Mark Rampolla said. (CNBC)

EASING IN: Brandon Lyon is returning to the Astros, but it will take him some time to reclaim the closer's role. (Houston Chronicle)

PAJAMA PARTY: The Rays had a pajama party Wednesday night as they prepared to leave Los Angeles. Click through for great pictures of the team. (St. Petersburg Times -- link 1, link 2, link 3)

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Posted on: May 22, 2011 11:06 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Wakefield gets it done

Tim Wakefield

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tim Wakefield, Red Sox -- Not much seems to be expected out of the old knuckleballer anymore, but he certainly delivered on Sunday night, allowing just one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Cubs, picking up his 194th career victory and first of the season. The only run the Cubs scored in the 5-1 Boston victory was by Starlin Castro, who led off the seventh with a double. Wakefield was already pitching professionally in the Pirates' system in 1990 when Castro was born.

James Shields, Rays -- Shields notched his second shutout and third complete game of the season, leading Tampa to a 4-0 victory over the Marlins. Shields' three-hitter included a career-high 13 strikeouts and stopped the Rays' three-game losing streak. Shields has been a boon to the Rays' bullpen, going past the seventh inning for the ninth time in his 10 starts this season -- and it was the eighth time he's gone at least seven innings while allowing two runs or less. Shields is now 5-2 with a 2.00 ERA. He has 73 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings pitch, while walking just 15. His WHIP stands at 0.93 and batters are hitting just .205 against him.

Torii Hunter, Angels -- Angels hit his first home run since April 21 -- a two-run shot in the fourth -- and followed it up with the quote of the night when asked if he remembered that one. "I can't remember that far back," Hunter said. "I haven't seen one in a while. I've seen them on TV, I've seen them in the movies, but it's a lot of fun to get one out of the way this month." His last home run was 99 at-bats ago. He has five this season.


Tim Collins, Royals -- Collins had a difficult task -- coming into the game in the 10th inning with bases loaded and no outs with Lance Berkman at the plate -- but the way he gave up the lead was disappointing. Collins got Berkman to pop up, but then walked the next two batters -- Colby Rasmus and Yadier Molina  -- giving the Cardinals a two-run lead. Blake Wood came in to get the next two batters and Kansas City managed a run in the bottom of the 10th, but it wasn't enough to overcome the two free passes. It was a fitting way to decide the game, as Royals pitchers walked 13 Cardinals.

Brian Fuentes, Athletics -- The A's fill-in closer leads the majors in losses by a reliever (6) and has three losses in the last five days, including two against the Giants. On Sunday, Fuentes gave up two hits and walked a batter, as Darren Ford scored from second on Emmanuel Burriss' single. Said Fuentes: "I'm just not making pitches. There wasn't really anything that happened that wasn't my fault." Give him credit for taking credit for his struggles at least.

National League East -- All five NL East teams lost on Sunday -- the Phillies lost to the Rangers, the Marlins lost to the Rays, the Mets to the Yankees, the Nationals lost to the Orioles and the Angels beat the Braves. The five teams combined for just five runs -- three of those accounted for by the Mets in a 9-3 loss in the Subway Series. The division went 7-8 in their interleague matchups this weekend, with the Phillies and Marlins winning their series and the other three teams losing their series.

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Posted on: May 20, 2011 1:51 am
Edited on: May 20, 2011 9:17 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Giambi homers thrice

Jason Giambi

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Jason Giambi, Rockies -- Thursday Giambi became the second-oldest player to ever hit three home runs in a game, younger only than the great Stan Musial, who hit three homers against the Mets on July 8, 1962, when he was 41. The other members of the 40-plus, three-homer game club? Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth. That's pretty good company. Giambi drove in all seven of the Rockies' runs in a 7-1 victory over the Phillies. Giambi entered the game with just three hits all season, hitting .115 (3 for 26) with one home run and four RBI. He raised his average to .194. It was the first time in his career he hit three homers in one game.

Pittsburgh Pirates -- The Pirates are now 5-1 at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park this season, with James McDonald solving the Reds. The Pirates' win, coupled with the Cardinals' victory over the Astros, dropped Cincinnati from first place. The bad news for the Pirates is they don't return to Cincinnati again this year, so no Skyline and no easy wins.

Dillon Gee, Mets -- Nationals pitcher Livan Hernandez broke up Gee's no-hitter with two outs in the sixth inning, but the Mets rookie allowed just one more hit in 7 2/3 innings, striking out three. Gee moved to 3-0 on the season and continued his mastery of the Nationals -- last season he made his big-league debut against Washington and didn't allow a hit until the sixth. 


Torii Hunter, Angels -- Back in center field for the first time this season, Hunter lost a routine fly ball off the bat of Carlos Peguero in the sun in the ninth inning with two outs in a tie game. The ball fell in for a hit and Jack Cust scored from third for the winning run.

Francisco Carmona, Indians -- Carmona gave up six runs in the first two innings of Thursday's 8-2 loss to the White Sox and two more in his fifth and final inning of work. In two games against Chicago this season, Carmona has an ERA of 20.25 and a batting average against of .429. Take away his two starts against the White Sox and he'd be 3-2 with a 2.56 ERA. Instead, he's 3-4 with a 4.76 ERA.

Neftali Feliz, Rangers -- For the second night in a row, the Rangers closer blew a save against the Royals. This time Ron Washington waited to bring Feliz in until after Eric Hosmer led off the inning. On Wednesday, Hosmer homered off of Feliz to tie the game and Thursday he singled off of starter Derek Holland to begin the ninth before Washington brought in Feliz. Feliz gave up two singles to blow the Rangers' 1-0 lead. After a walk, Washington lifted Feliz in favor of Mark Lowe, who got out of the inning. However, unlike Wednesday, the Royals prevailed in extra innings Thursday, as Jeff Francouer drove in the winning run in the 10th. Feliz has walked 12 batters so far this season after walking just 18 all of last season.

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Posted on: April 24, 2011 11:18 pm
 

3 up, 3 down: Clap clap, clap clap clap

Derek JeterBy C. Trent Rosecrans

3UP

Derek Jeter, Yankees -- I often wonder how long can you keep saying, "It's still early." I think when an everyday player can raise his average .046 points in one day, it's still early. That's what Jeter did on Sunday with his 4-for-6 performance against the Orioles. Jeter notched his second extra-base hit of the season, a second-inning double and added an RBI single in the 11th inning. He still doesn't look like the captain of old, and his .257/.317/.284 line isn't anywhere near looking like Minka Kelly, but it's better than the .221/.289/.235 line he brought to Sunday's dance. He also moved up the all-time hit list, past Frank Robinson for 30th overall with 2,945.

Red Sox pitching -- John Lackey's eight-inning performance was just the latest great start for Boston hurlers. Boston completed its sweep of the Angels with a 7-0 win in Anaheim on Sunday, marking the team's first back-to-back shutouts since June, 2007. Boston has now won eight of nine, with Red Sox starters going 7-1 with a 0.88 ERA during that string. The Angels' only runs off a Red Sox starter in the four games (and 30 innings by Red Sox starters) was Torii Hunter's seventh-inning homer off Josh Beckett on Thursday night.

Roy Halladay, Phillies -- As Matt pointed out the other day, the Padres didn't stand much of a chance against Halladay following his bad performance earlier in the week. While Wade LeBlanc performed well for the Padres, he couldn't match Halladay, who went 8 2/3 innings, allowed five hits and one run, matching his career-best with 14 strikeouts.

3DOWN

White Sox offense -- Chicago's lost 10 of 11 and scored three or fewer runs in all 11 games. In those 11 games, the White Sox are hitting just .193/.256/.282 with seven home runs, with more strikeouts (76) than hits (69). Adam Dunn is struggling as much as anyone, hitting .098/.213/.195 since coming back from his appendectomy.

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs -- The Cubs' right-hander allowed five runs in the first inning on Sunday and had his streak of 11 consecutive victories halted. However, on the positive side, Zambrano didn't blow up after a rough start as he has in the past, settling down and giving up just one more run in his remaining four innings.

Mariano Rivera, Yankees -- Rivera blew his second straight save opportunity -- and if not for a good defensive job by right fielder Nick Swisher, second baseman Robinson Cano and catcher Russell Martin, it would have lost the game. After a rain delay in extra innings, the Yankees were able to pick up Rivera and score three in the 11th for a victory.

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Posted on: April 17, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Pepper: Dangerous game for fans, too

Jose Salazar

By C. Trent Rosecrans


When I went to Class A game the other day, I sat in the front row just to film from that angle and I was shocked at just how close I was sitting -- and how little the fans around me were paying attention.

Of course, it's worse at the minor-league level and in spring training where the stadiums are smaller, but it's still dangerous at the big-league level. Last night in Los Angeles, a fan at the Dodgers game was hit by a foul ball from Matt Holliday and carried off on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. [Associated Press ]

This spring, of course, Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar was struck in the face by a foul ball and lost an eye.

On Friday, Salazar returned to manage the Lynchburg Hillcats.

This weekend, it was a feel-good story to see Salazar back in uniform, but it was so close to being different. [Lynchburg News Advance ]

STRANGE BALK -- Take a minute to watch this -- last night Justin Verlander tried to pick off Daric Barton at first, but caught a cleat in the dirt, so instead of making a bad throw to first, he threw home and hit David DeJesus. Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck ruled it a balk, awarding Barton second base. DeJesus later walked. Verlander said afterward, even he laughed at how it looked. [MLB.com ]

BRADEN LEAVES EARLY -- A's starter Dallas Braden left Saturday's game with shoulder stiffness after five innings. There's no update yet, but it could be bad news for the A's. [San Francisco Chronicle ]

AFRICAN-AMERICAN PARTICIPATION DECLINES
-- As teams honored Jackie Robinson this weekend, the Mets' Willie Harris finds the lack of African-Americans in the game "sad." Only 9.1 percent of major leaguers on opening day 2010 were African-American, while 20 percent were in 1995. Harris said he doesn't think MLB markets its top African-American stars, such as Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford and CC Sabathia, well enough. [New York Daily News

Rockies STARTER FALLS - - For the first time this season, a Rockies starter picked up a loss in the game. Jason Hamel was the first Rockies starter to earn an L, falling 8-3 to the Cubs and ending the Rockies' seven-game winning streak. [Associated Press ]

AND THERE'S THAT
--The other day White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he has the league's best bullpen, despite his relievers blowing six saves and converting just one. On Saturday, he said he knows he has a good defensive team, despite its 15 errors this season, 13 in the last 10 games. [Chicago Tribune ]
 
SPEAKING OF -- The A's lead the majors with 17 errors, including one more on Saturday. First baseman Daric Barton -- widely viewed as one of the best defensive first basemen in the game -- is tied for the team-lead with three errors. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has three, as well. [MLB.com ]

EARNING HIS KEEP -- Could this be the year Alfonso Soriano lives up to his promise and salary? Soriano leads the Cubs with five home runs and 12 RBI. [Chicago Tribune ]

NO LEFTY -- The Dodgers don't have a left-handed reliever in their bullpen after Hong-Chih Kuo was place don the disabled list and replaced on the roster by right-hander Ramon Troncoso. [Los Angeles Times ]

ROYAL PEN -- One of the reasons the Royals are leading in the American League Central is their bullpen, well, almost all of their bullpen. In a reversal of expectations, only closer Joakim Soria, one of the best closers in baseball the last couple of years, has struggled. Manager Ned Yost said his closer is just "human" and should be fine. Still, the likes of Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffress and Aaron Crow have impressed. [Kansas City Star ]

NEW PITCH -- Giants closer Brian Wilson is playing coy about a new pitch in his arsenal. Wilson, who will talk about most subjects, isn't discussing a new pitch he's throwing to right-handed batters. It may be a two-seam fastball, a cutter or even a screwball. [San Jose Mercury News ]

ATTENDANCE WOES -- This month six teams have set records for their lowest attendance since their current park opened -- the Braves, Indians, Mariners, Cardinals, Yankees and Twins. Overall attendance is down just two percent this year, which is less than I expected. [USA Today ]

HOW LOW CAN IT GO? -- Seattle is being hit particularly hard at the turnstiles. [Seattle Times ]

UBIQUITOUS OBLUQUE -- I missed this earlier this week, but heard Tim McCarver bring it up during yesterday's Mets-Braves games -- Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times wrote a great article about the oblique injury, noting 14 players had gone on the DL this year with an oblique injury. Also, before MRI technology improved to its current point, the injury had been called rib cage or abdominal injuries, the diagnosis is just better nowadays.

BIG DRAFT -- What if you had to pick from Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, Ricky Romero, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Mike Pelfrey, Wade Townsend, Chris Volstad, John Mayberry Jr., Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus or Clay Buchholz? The 2005 draft offered those choices. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ]

WRIGLEY GRIDIRON -- The Cubs and Northwestern want to continue playing football games at Wrigley Field, despite the challenges they faced this season. In the end, money wins. [Chicago Tribune ]

TUCSON HOME -- Padres owner Jeff Moorad said Tucson will be the Triple-A home for the Padres for at least another year and could be an option if the team isn't able to get funding for a park in Escondido, Calif. [Arizona Daily Star ]

A DIFFERENT MANNY -- Manny Ramirez changed when he went to Boston. [Akron Beacon-Journal ]

HOT DOGGIN' -- A look at the best and craziest hot dogs at ballparks this season. I'm thinking about getting that Meat Lovers Dog at Great American Ball Park later today. I'll take pictures. In the name of "journalism" of course. I'm also curious about the Bahn Mi Dog at Nationals Stadium and [SeriousEats.com ]

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