Tag:Diamondbacks
Posted on: November 22, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 8:24 pm
 

Ryan Braun wins NL MVP



By Matt Snyder


Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has won the National League Most Valuable Player award, garnering 20 of the 32 first-place votes. This marks the first time a Brewers player has ever won the NL MVP. Previous Brewers winners -- Robin Yount (1982, 1989) and Rollie Fingers (1981) -- came when the ballclub was a member of the American League.

Braun, 28, hit .332/.397/.597 with 33 home runs, 111 RBI, 109 runs scored and 33 stolen bases. He led the NL in slugging percentage and OPS. He also helped lead his team to a 96-66 record, an NL Central championship and a trip to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history.

"This really is a dream," Braun said. "This is beyond my wildest dreams to be in this position at this point in my career."

Most Valuable Player
Braun beat out a pretty solid field of sluggers in the Senior Circuit, with Matt Kemp of the Dodgers finishing second.

Kemp's case was very strong, and this felt like a two-horse race for the entire month of September. Kemp challenged for the triple crown (leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBI). He led the NL with 39 home runs and 126 RBI, but finished third in batting average at a .324 clip. He also stole 40 bases, won a Gold Glove and led the NL in total bases.

"Matt's one of the best players in the game. No question about it. The season he had will go down as one of the greatest in Dodgers history," said Braun. "If he had won the MVP I certainly couldn't have argued with him winning. He had a phenomenal year."

Alas, the Dodgers weren't in contention all season, finishing third place in the NL West at 82-79. Ultimately, the difference in team performance seems to be what propelled Braun over Kemp.

"If you honestly assess both of our seasons individually I think his numbers are probably better than mine, and I just feel fortunate to have been on the better team," Braun said. "It's an individual award, but it's a result of being part of a special team, a special organization."

Here are the top 10 finishers, with voting points in parentheses:

1. Braun (388)
2. Kemp (332)
3. Prince Fielder (229)
4. Justin Upton (214)
5. Albert Pujols (166)
6. Joey Votto (135)
7. Lance Berkman (118)
8. Troy Tulowitzki (69)
9. Roy Halladay (52)
10. Ryan Howard (39)

The following players, in order of vote totals, also received votes: Jose Reyes, Clayton Kershaw, Shane Victorino, Ian Kennedy, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, John Axford, Michael Morse, Carlos Beltran, Miguel Montero, Yadier Molina, Starlin Castro, Craig Kimbrel, Carlos Ruiz, Mike Stanton.

It's worth noting that this was the 11th season Pujols has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting -- and he's only been in the league for 11 years. He's won MVP three times and finished in the top five 10 of those 11 years.

Kemp took home 10 first-place votes, with Fielder and Upton getting one each. Braun had the rest. Only Braun, Kemp and Fielder received second-place votes.

Braun is locked up with Milwaukee through the 2020 season, as he signed a five-year extension in April. The 2011 MVP award will join the 2007 Rookie of the Year in Braun's trophy case.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 6:32 pm
 

Arizona Fall League wraps up season

Nolan ArenadoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Salt River Rafters wrapped up the Arizona Fall League season with an 9-3 victory over the Surprise Saguaros on Saturday, and with it came a flurry of awards.

Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (pictured) won the league's Most Valuable Player Award. The 20-year old, playing for the Rafters, hit safely in 27 of his 30 games, including a 2-for-4 performance with a solo homer in Saturday's championship game. Arrando led the minor leagues with 122 RBI at High-A Modesto in 2011.

Miami outfielder Kevin Mattison won the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. Mattison tied for the league lead in triples (five) and second in runs scored (29). Mattison was added to the Marlins' 40-man roster on Friday.

Arenado and Mattison were also members of the league's Top Prospects Team.

The entire team:

Outfield

Bryce Harper (Nationals): .333/.400/.636, 6 HR, 26 RBI

Michael Choice (Athletics): .318/.423/.667, 6 HR, 18 RBI

Robbie Grossman (Pirates): .375/.472/625, 7 HR, 22 RBI

Kevin Mattison (Marlins): .349/.433/.624, 6 HR, 23 RBI

Adam Eaton (Diamondbacks): .344/.410/.475, 2 HR, 16 RBI

Wil Myers (Royals): .360/.481/.674, 4 HR, 18 RBI

Third base

Nolan Arenado (Rockies): .388/.423/.636, 6 HR, 33 RBI

Mike Olt (Rangers): .349/.433/.764, 13 HR 43 RBI

Shortstop

Junior Lake (Cubs): .296/.352/.548, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Brandon Crawford (Giants): .276/.315/.414, 2 HR, 12 RBI

Second base

Joe Panik (Giants): .323/.394/.473, 2 HR, 13 RBI

Brian Dozier (Twins): .296/..358/.454, 3 HR, 22 RBI

First base

Joe Terdoslavich (Braves): .321/.424/.548, 3 HR, 14 RBI

Matt Adams (Cardinals): .250/.258/.475, 4 HR, 19 RBI

Catcher

Christian Bethancourt (Braves): .306/.324/.556, 5 HR, 13 RBI

Derek Norris (Nationals): .276/.367/.382, 2 HR, 11 RBI

Designated hitter

Jedd Gyorko (Padres): .437/.500/.704, 5 HR, 22 RBI

Josh Vitters (Cubs): .360/.383/.540, 4 HR, 17 RBI

Starting pitchers

Danny Hultzen (Mariners): 1-0, 1.40 ERA, 19.1 IP, 18 SO, 5 BB

Terry Doyle (White Sox): 4-0, 1.98 ERA, 27.1 IP, 22 SO, 5 BB

Relievers

Brad Boxberger (Reds): 3 saves, 5.40 ERA, 13.1 IP, 22 SO, 6 BB

Jacob Diekman (Phillies): 2 saves, 0.79 ERA, 11.1 IP, 14 SO, 6 BB

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Would expanded playoffs change past results?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Commissioner Bud Selig wants one more team in the playoffs as soon as the 2012 season, with the two wild card teams facing off in one game to decide which team moves on to the next round. The idea is to expand the playoffs and at the same time giving division winners an advantage over a team that doesn't win its division.

Not only does the extra team mean there's more playoffs, but the wild card teams will have to juggle their rotation to try to get their best pitcher pitch in the one-game playoff.

2011

American League: No baseball fan will forget watching Game 162 for the Rays and Red Sox -- a once-in-a-lifetime finish to the regular season that wouldn't happen under the new format. Of course, it was there only because of the wild card -- something that many people were against when Selig first introduced it. There will still be fantastic finishes -- just not one exactly like there was this year. Not that I was expecting to see anything like that ever again. If the new format eliminates the rule barring teams from the same division playing in the first round, the first-round match ups would have been different, with the Tigers and Rangers meeting in the divisional series instead of the ALCS.

National League: The Cardinals and Braves would have faced off in the one-game playoff, with the winner going on the face the Phillies. Chris Carpenter wouldn't have had to pitch the final game of the regular season and could have been held back for the wild card game.

What would have changed? Maybe Terry Francona would still have a job, but other than that, who knows? The Cardinals wouldn't have had Carpenter for the wild card game, but if they were indeed a team of destiny, who's to say they don't go on and win the whole thing? The American League is a tossup, really, it's tough to say exactly what would have happened.

2010

American League: The Red Sox beat out the White Sox for the second playoff spot and set up yet another Yankees-Red Sox showdown in the one-game wild card.

National League: Atlanta and San Diego would face off for the right to face the seemingly unbeatable Phillies, while the Giants and Reds would have met in the other division series.

What would have changed? Instead of facing the Yankees, the Twins would get the Rangers, but the result probably wouldn't have changed. As for the National League, San Diego was reeling at the end of the season and probably wouldn't have challenged the Braves. However, the Phillies wouldn't have played the Reds in the first round and we wouldn't have gotten Roy Halladay's no-hitter. Or maybe we would have, the Reds had the National League's best offense, so maybe the opponent didn't matter that day.

2009

American League: Instead of just one one-game playoff in the AL, in 2009 there would have been two. Boston and Texas would have been the two wild card teams, but both teams had better records than the Twins and Tigers, who met in a one-game playoff to determine the American League Central champ.

National League: The AL East isn't the only division that can squeeze three teams into the playoffs -- the Rockies and Giants would face each other for the right to play the Dodgers in the NLDS.

What would have changed? Probably little, the Yankees and Phillies would likely face off in the World Series no matter what other teams were in the mix.

2008

American League: The Twins would have been the extra wild card team, facing the 95-win Red Sox for the right to face the Angels

National League: The Brewers and Mets would have had to face off in the wild card game, with the winner getting the 97-win Cubs, while Philadelphia would face Los Angeles in the NLDS instead of the Cubs.

What would have changed? The Red Sox beat the Angels 3-1 in the ALDS, so it's not a stretch to see Boston burning a pitcher and still beating the Angels in that series. The Phillies likely would have gone on to the World Series, but the Cubs may have had a better shot to advance to the NLCS and break some more hearts by failing to reach the World Series.

2007

American League: One one-game playoff not good enough for you? How about a playoff for the playoff? The 94-win Yankees would have to wait a day to see who they'd play in the wild card game, as Seattle and Detroit both finished 88-74.

National League: This time we have a pretty good idea what it would look like -- the Rockies and Padres would face off in a one-game playoff, just as they did anyway. A 13-inning thriller, the Rockies beat the Padres to advance to the NLDS. But instead of playing the Phillies in the first round, the Rockies would have faced the Diamondbacks, who had the best record in the National League with 90 wins.

What would have changed? Probably not too much -- every series was a sweep, meaning the best teams were more or less identified.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
Read>>
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In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Gibson, Maddon named top managers

Kirk Gibson Joe Maddon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and Rays manager Joe Maddon overwhelmingly won the Manager of the Year award in the National League and American League, respectively, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced on Wednesday.

Award Season
Tony La Russa
If voting were done after the playoffs instead of before the playoffs, would Tony La Russa have won the National League Manager of the Year award?
Read>>
Related links

Gibson, who took over as the Diamondbacks skipper during the 2010 season, received 28 of 32 first-place votes after he guided Arizona to a 94-68 record and the National League West title. Arizona lost their National League division series to the Brewers in five games. First-year Brewers manager Ron Roenicke received three first-place votes, with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa receiving the other first-place vote. Roenicke finished second and La Russa third.

Maddon, in his sixth season with the Rays, received 26 of 28 first-place votes after leading the Rays to a 91-71 record and the American League wild card. The Rays trailed the Red Sox by 9 1/2 games on Sept. 2, before the team went 16-8 over their last 24 games, including winning their last five games to slip into the playoffs over the collapsing Red Sox. It is the second time Maddon has won the award, also winning in 2008. Detroit's Jim Leyland and Texas' Ron Washington received the other first-place votes, with Leyland finishing second and Washington third.

Voting for the award is done after the regular season and before the playoffs begin. 

Both managers won the award in the time-honored tradition of exceeding expectations. Although the Rays won the AL East in 2010, the team lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and nearly the team's entire bullpen from its 2010 team. 

Gibson's Diamondbacks were an afterthought in the NL West after losing 97 games in 2010. However, Arizona took the NL West lead on Aug. 10 and left the defending champion Giants in the dust over the final two months of the season.

In the name of full disclosure, I was a voter for the National League Manager of the Year and was one of the 28 voters to put Gibson atop my ballot. I put La Russa second and Roenicke third -- flip-flopping those two in the final week of the season after the Cardinals' remarkable run to the playoffs.  

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

Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Report: Diamondbacks, Royals interested in Oswalt

Oswalt

By Evan Brunell


Roy Oswalt appears to be a popular man.

Oswalt's agent, Bob Garber, is expected to meet with the Royals to discuss the righty on Tuesday or Wednesday, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick writes.

But Oswalt will have competition. The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro says the Diamondbacks are interested in Oswalt. Add in the Nationals and Phillies, who displayed prior interest, and the market is heating up for Oswalt. It would come as no surprise if other teams were in the hunt or eventually entered it.

The 34-year-old made 23 starts this past season, checking in with a 3.69 ERA for the Phillies. He missed time due to back problems and has also considered retirement, so he won't be looking for a long-term deal. He'll have to compromise on whatever deal he gets, though. Teams aren't going to guarantee tens of millions of dollars to Oswalt, not after his back problem was a significant problem in 2011. In addition, Oswalt isn't the same pitcher he once was. He's no longer an ace and better fits in as the No. 2 or 3 starter on a staff. Any deal will likely be incentive-laden, giving Oswalt money based on his ability to stay on the field.

The Royals are aggressive this winter in looking for pitching, already trading for Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. But the team needs more, and Oswalt would be a solid veteran presence. But is he really interested in playing for the Royals, who aren't thought to be contenders in 2012? While the future is bright in K.C., it's still far enough in the future that Oswalt may prefer a team closer to contending. Of the other teams to display interest, the Diamondbacks more closely fit that profille -- but can 'Zona pony up the dollars to sign Oswalt?

While Oswalt's market is heating up, don't expect a resolution anytime soon. Oswalt's better served by waiting things out as its likely his market would only improve. Teams such as the Red Sox, Rangers and Yankees could jump in the fray at any moment, and would certainly look into Oswalt should they strike out on their top pitching targets.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:13 pm
 

Report: Diamondbacks to sign Aaron Hill

HillBy Evan Brunell

Aaron Hill will be back with the Diamondbacks next season, agreeing to a two-year deal worth $11 million, SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

Hill was left for dead in Toronto, coming to Arizona on a lark. Once someone who bashed 36 homers (2009), the 29-year-old had slid to .225/.270/.313 for Toronto this season, after yet another poor year in 2010, although he did hit 26 homers that season. Hill was sent to Arizona along with backup infielder John McDonald for another underperforming second baseman in Kelly Johnson. He liked the dry heat, breaking out for a .316/.386/.492 line in 142 plate appearances the rest of the way, slugging two homers.

However, that wasn't enough for 'Zona, who declined Hill's two-year option and set him into free agency. GM Kevin Towers declined to pay Hill an additional two years and $16 million. But a $5 million paycut was enough for Hill to agree to return as the second baseman. But Arizona won't lack for replacements just in case Hill gets off to a poor start. The club also resigned McDonald, as well as Willie Bloomquist as a hedge against Stephen Drew coming back healthy in time for Opening Day.

The team also has infielder Geoff Blum, who missed much of the season with injury. In addition, Ryan Roberts' job security at third is tenuous, so while there are quite a few infielders under contract, they don't have a sure bet at any infield position. That includes first base, which may be handed to Paul Goldschmidt after being called up in August.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Kuroda, Igawa garnering interest from Japan

Hiroki Kuroda

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Hiroki Kuroda ranked fourth on the CBSSports.com ranking of free agent starting pitchers -- and that was before CC Sabathia signed his extension. So needless to say, the former Dodgers right-hander is among the most sought-after free agents on the market.

While the Dodgers were thought to be a shoe-in to re-sign Kuroda, there have been reports that more teams, including the Yankees, could tempt him. Add another team to the mix -- the Hiroshima Carp. Kuroda, 36, pitched 11 years for the Carp before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent on Dec. 16, 2007. 

According to Nikkan Sports in Japan (via NPB tracker), the Carp have made an official offer to Kuroda, 37.

"I'm happy that they would evaluate my contributions like that," Kuroda said, according to NPB Tracker. "Naturally, I'm happy. A feeling that they really want to win across. (Hiroshima's competitiveness this season) has come to a frustrating place, to a place where they are one step away. … I'm very happy I got an offer from the Carp."

Kuroda is 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons with the Dodgers, including a 13-16 record with a 3.07 ERA in 2011. He was 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA in Japan, winning the Central League with a 1.85 ERA in 2006.

The Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck writes that he expects Kuroda's decision to come down the Dodgers and Carp -- and for the Dodgers, that decision needs to be made relatively soon.

Kuroda isn't the only Japanese player from the major leagues that is gaining attention in his home country. NPB Tracker also notes Kei Igawa is garnering interest from Rakuten and Orix.

Meanwhile, Seibu shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima and Yakult center fielder Norichika Aoki have asked to be posted. Nikkan Sports reports the Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Orioles may be interested in Nakajima.

Meanwhile, Chunichi left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is unsure whether he wants to move to the United States, according to the Chunichi Shimbun (also via NPB Tracker). Chen, 26, would be a free agent and not subject to the posting system. A native of Taiwan, Chen went 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA for the Dragons this season. He led the Central League with a 1.54 ERA  and 0.93 WHIP in 2009.

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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