Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:James Shields
Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:28 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Mauer power on display

Mauer

By Evan Brunell


Joe Mauer, Twins: The first home run of the season for Joe Mauer came Wednesday night in the first inning. With two out, he launched a solo home run to right field, a 383-footer. He had a 2-for-4 night with three runs, two RBI and a walk. Now hitting .288/.357/.350, Mauer is heating up, and has been for some time. With this new power, he might be ready to carry Minnesota to a shocking first-place finish. (At six games back, it really might happen.)

Zack Greinke, Brewers: Greinke's appeared in the 3 Down space more than once this season, but we always talked about his astounding strikeout-to-walk rate, now at an impressive 123-21, and said that his ERA -- which was 5.56 four starts ago -- would have to drop. It has, all the way to 4.50, as he's pitched 25 2/3 innings over those starts, giving up four unearned runs and none on Wednesday to the Cubs.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Have you noticed what Ellsbury's up to lately? He's hit eight home runs in his last 17 games and now has 17 on the year, tying him with Adrian Gonzalez for second most on the team. The leader? David Ortiz, who banged his 20th on the night, adding Boston's first grand slam of the year. Ellsbury scored three, drove in two and was 3-for-4 with a walk, pushing his line to .325/.383/.528 on the year. He also stole his 29th stolen base, which is rather low for him but with the added power, the Sox don't mind. Boston's never had a 25 HR/25 SB player, by the way.


James Shields, Rays: We're going to spend this edition of 3 Down yelling at pitchers who made poor starts. Let's kick things off with Shields, who somehow gave up 10 earned runs to the Athletics -- yes, the Oakland Athletics -- in four innings, with his ERA going from 2.53 to 3.03. The A's scored one in the third but it all exploded in the fourth with nine scored, with Hideki Matsui's three-run home run the biggest blow. He walked and struck out two apiece and will now attempt to banish this game from his mind as he tries to stay in the AL Cy Young race.

Bronson Arroyo, Reds: Arroyo hasn't been doing great lately, accentuating Cincinnati's need for starting pitchers that much more acute. Arroyo, usually as steady as they come for over 200 innings and an average ERA of 4.00, has the ERA all the way up to 5.58 after allowing five runs (one unearned) in six innings. Arroyo has been shockingly consistent as to giving up four or five runs over six innings, but he's given up an inordinate amount of home runs this season, giving up his 30th on Wednesday to Lucas Duda. He's usually good for 30 an entire season.

Colby Lewis, Rangers: Lewis wasn't bad like Shields, but he wasn't great either. He danced around danger, giving up eight hits and two walks, allowing four earned runs. He gave up two homers, one each to Mauer and Michael Cuddyer. Lewis has actually been trying to come back from a very up-and-down season, his ERA resting at 5.70 after April, driving it down to 3.48 over the next month, then getting rocked in two starts to send it way back up to 4.97.  And on it went, him working it down to 3.93, before this latest outing has him an even 4.00.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 4:56 pm
 

Wednesday afternoon trade rumors

By C. Trent Rosecrans

We actually got the big trades on Wednesday with a three-way deal sending Colby Rasmus to Toronto and Edwin Jackson to St. Louis, as well as the biggest domino of the non-waiver trade deadline falling, as Carlos Beltran will join the Giants on Thursday. But that doesn't mean the rumors stopped, boy oh boy, are they still hot and heavy. Here's our roundup of the morning and early afternoon's rumors:

• One official for a contender told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that he believes the Rockies will move Ubaldo Jimenez. Apparently there's too much smoke for there not to be fire. The same official told Stark, "You don't do this with your best pitchers unless you're ready to trade him." 

• Even with the Cardinals rebuilding their bullpen in Wednesday's Rasmus deal, they're still talking to the Padres about Heath Bell and Mike Adams, CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller tweets.

• The Cubs are apparently interested in dumping two of their higher-priced players, Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted the Cubs are offering up much of the money left on their contracts. A rival front-office member told Heyman, "They'd have to pay 95 percent." Zambrano is making $17.875 million this season and $18 million next season. He has a $19.25 million vesting option for 2013 that takes effect if he is first or second in the 2011 Cy Young vote (not likely) or is in the top four of the 2012 Cy Young vote and is healthy. He has a full no-trade clause. Soriano is signed through 2014 at $18 million per season. The Cubs are hoping the Yankees bite, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.

• A's general manager Billy Beane tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he's not interested in giving away any of the available A's players on the cheap. He said the team isn't looking to dump payroll.

• After Beltran turned down the Indians (or his agent did), Cleveland has moved on and is trying to land Rasmus, B.J. Upton and Hiroki Kuroda, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! tweets. Of course, that was before Rasmus was off the table.

• The Astros say they want a "very top" pitching prospect in return for Hunter Pence, Heyman tweets. He notes with that price tag, most expect Hunter to stay in Houston.

• FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweets the Braves are now the most interested in Pence, but are also interested in the Padres' Ryan Ludwick.

• The Phillies have done background work on White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, Olney tweets. Philadelphia is searching for a bat that would basically replace what Jason Werth did for them last season.

• Rockies outfielder Ryan Spllborghs is a possibility for the Red Sox, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. He also adds the Twins are listening to offers for right-hander Kevin Slowey.

• The Yankees have asked about Florida's Ricky Nolasco, but was told the team would deal him, Heyman tweeted.

• The chances of the Dodgers trading Andre Ethier are "very slim" FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports. But there's a chance as Ethier will be a free agent after 2012.

• The Reds are telling teams catcher Devin Mesoraco and shortstop Billy Hamilton are "untouchable," Rosenthal writes. However, he also notes the Rockies wouldn't require either of those two. If a deal didn't include those, it would take some other big pieces, though. The Reds' system is deep enough to have those pieces, such as Yasmandi Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Travis Wood and Mike Leake.

• Even though the Rays have said James Shields is unavailable, Rosenthal tweets Cincinnati is targeting Sheilds over Ubaldo Jimenez.

• With Rasmus off the table, the Nationals are targeting the Twins' Denard Span and could move closer Drew Storen to get the outfielder, Rosenthal said on MLB Network.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:46 am
Edited on: July 27, 2011 8:43 am
 

Forget it: Players not going anywhere at deadline



By Matt Snyder


Ah, late July. The perfect time of the year for people who love to talk trade rumors. What if Team X traded (insert huge name) to Team Y for (insert two or three middling prospects)? Man, Team X would win it all! While it's all in good fun, many of the rumors swirling aren't overly realistic. So, with that in mind, here's a handful of names that have come up that won't be on the move before next Monday.

1. James Sheilds, Rays. Last week, reports indicated the All-Star was being made available by the Rays, which instantly put Shields up there with Ubaldo Jimenez as the two most attractive starting pitching options on the market. In fact, you could argue Shields was more attractive, especially if he escaped the AL East and headed some place more pitcher-friendly. Monday, however, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reported that the Rays will not deal Shields. While he's arbitration eligible after this season, Shields doesn't hit free agency until 2013 and he's been the Rays' best pitcher this season. They are obviously planning on competing in 2012, so he's staying put.

MLB Trade Deadline
2. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs. If Ramirez was available, he'd snag a pretty penny in return, as third base has become a pretty anemic offensive position. And he likely would be available, if it wasn't for his refusal to be traded -- at least before the non-waiver deadline. Ramirez has repeatedly, almost emphatically, told the media both personally and through his agent, that he will not waive his no-trade clause for any reason until August. He's done so enough, I believe him. He's going to be in a Cubs uniform come August 1.

3. Hunter Pence, Astros. He doesn't hit free agency until 2014 and the Astros reportedly believe him to be the face of the franchise. Someone would really have to bowl them over to get him -- think the haul the Rangers got for Mark Teixeira from the Braves. While Pence is good, is he really good enough to pay such a high price? At age 28, he's already in his prime and we're seeing what he can. He's a really, really good player. He's All-Star caliber, but not a superstar. The feeling here is there's no match and Pence stays in Houston.

4. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros. Rodriguez is owed $10.5 million next season and $13.5 million in 2013, with a club option for 2014 meaning the Astros would be asking a potential trade partner to take over $30 million in future salary along with Rodriguez, while coughing up a prospect package in return. Is Rodriguez worth it? He has a 3.60 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 2010 and 2011 combined. He's also 32 years old. Several reports last week said the Astros wanted as much for Rodriguez as the Rockies did for Jimenez -- who is 27 and much cheaper. A major-league general manager recently told Jon Heyman of SI.com that "nobody's touching Wandy." I agree.

5. Keep Dreaming Tri-Entries: Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Jose Reyes, Mets and Felix Hernandez, Mariners. Apparently every season the Mariners aren't in contention, there will always be a group of people who can't let go of the Felix-to-Yankees talk. It ain't happening this year. Also, we've received a bevy of trade predictions and questions about Kemp on Twitter. While it's true the Dodgers are having financial troubles at this juncture, Kemp is an MVP candidate, part of the future nucleus and under team control through 2012. Dream on, people. He's staying in L.A. As for Reyes, it's been quite the whirlwind season. He went from being a sure thing to be traded to absolutely off the market to pretty likely to be retained. Having an MVP season will do that sort of thing. Hey, at least we were given the priceless "Carl Crawford money" line earlier this season by Mets owner Fred Wilpon.

It's funny, though, how fluid things can be around the deadline. Had we written this a week ago, Ubaldo Jimenez would have been on the list. Since then, however, it appears a few teams -- possibly the Reds and/or Yankees -- have chipped away at the Rockies, because reports now indicate it's a "50-50 chance" that Jimenez gets traded. So stay tuned. This post may have the shelf life of a Betamax -- at least in terms of Ramirez, Pence and Rodriguez. I don't not expect things to even come close to changing with Reyes, Kemp or Hernandez. Shields seems like a firm bet to stick as well.

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

Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: July 26, 2011 8:21 am
 

Monday's trade rumor roundup

By C. Trent Rosecrans

As the non-waiver trade deadline looms on Sunday, the rumors are coming fast and furious -- with some make sense and others not so much. Much of what you hear at this time of year is a smokescreen, but baseball fans love gossip more than junior high school girls, with less regard to the truth. So, to help satisfy that desire, we're rounding up the day's rumors in one place.

• The Rays won't deal James Shields, our own CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler reports. Tampa Bay has told other teams that they won't discuss Shields, David Price or Jeremy Hellickson. That said, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are available, as is B.J. Upton.

MLB Trade Deadline

• The Rays are also offering closer Kyle Farnsworth to anyone interested, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.

• CBSSports.com's Scott Miller says he's also heard that the Phillies have "way cooled" on acquiring Carlos Beltran, backing up Knobler's report from Sunday.

• Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets the Rangers and Giants are ahead of the Phillies and Braves as of Monday.

• The chance of the Rockies dealing Ubaldo Jimenez is "around 50/50" FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes, citing a "major-league source close to the talks." He adds the Reds are still involved and the Tigers are interested as well. Morosi reports one team has exchanged names with the Rockies.

• The Reds are drawing interest on right-hander Edinson Volquez, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com tweets.

• The Cardinals and Nationals have talked about sending Todd Coffey -- a former Red and Brewer -- to St. Louis. The team would like to keep Tyler Clippard, but if someone wows them, they're open, Morosi tweets.

• The Yankees won't move top prospects -- such as left-hander Manny Banuelos, right-hander Dellin Betances or catchers Jesus Montero or Austin Romine -- unless they get an ace-type pitcher in return, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

• The Phillies are "aggressive" on Heath Bell and Mike Adams of the Padres, but are surprised they aren't getting more interest fron the Yankees, Cardinals and Reds, Sherman tweets.

• Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez is available, but with $40 million left on his contract, another general manager tells Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman, "nobody's going to touch Wandy."

• Hiroki Kuroda would consider waiving his no-trade clause if he's sent to the Yankees or Red Sox, "a baseball official"  tells ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand. However, the teams "hottest" on Kuroda are reportedly the Indians, Tigers and Rangers, according to Rosenthal.

• It's not a trade, but a player acquisition -- the Brewers, Giants, Mariners and A's are interested in Wily Mo Pena, who was released by the Diamondbacks on Sunday, Heyman tweets. He makes the most sense in the American League where he doesn't need a glove. [Heyman]

• Aaron Harang had been mentioned in some trade talks, but there are reports that San Diego would like to keep him and re-sign him, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Harang, a San Diego native, would love to stay there -- and keep pitching in Petco Park.

• The Phillies are interested in Colorado's Jason Giambi, Rosenthal tweets. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post tweets the Pirates are interested in Giambi as well. He's hitting .263/.360/.632 with 10 homers in 111 plate appearances. Giambi had talked about possibly moving to an American League team to DH, but he could still be a valuable left-handed bat off the bench for a National League team. [FoxSports.com and Denver Post]

• The Braves are still interested in the Astros' Hunter Pence, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.

• Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com's Lyle Spencer the team probably wouldn't make a big move at the trade deadline, instead hoping the team can improve from within -- especially with the addition of Fernando Rodney from the disabled list.

• Texas manager Ron Washington called the bullpen a "priority" at the trading deadline, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.

• One reliever who won't be available to the Rangers, or anyone, is Seattle closer Brandon League. Chuck Armstrong tells Morosi a trade involving League is not likely.

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

Posted on: July 22, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 10:51 am
 

Pepper: Turn the page on spitting incident



By Matt Snyder


We're just two days away from the induction of Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar into the Hall of Fame, so I'm going to concentrate on the negativity. This is a special moment for Blyleven, Alomar, their families and their fans. If you don't like either player or believe there's some reason for the general public to dislike either one, just shut it for a few days. It's their moment, and many, many fans and baseball people believe they both deserve it.

It feels as if most of the venom directed toward Blyleven's Hall candidacy has waned, but whenever Alomar's name gets brought up, we're bound to have someone -- even if it's only one person -- bring up the fact he spit in an umpire's face. Sure enough, it happened earlier this week when I posted on the Blue Jays retiring Alomar's number.

Make no mistake about it, that incident was bad. It was really bad. Alomar made a one-time mistake. Now, we may not have all spat in the face of an authority figure, but we've all made mistakes that we regret. It happened 15 years ago. Oh, and the person on the receiving end of the spit is just fine with Alomar, in case you didn't know.

"I'm very, very happy for him," said John Hirschbeck (MLB.com), the umpire Alomar spat on. "I've been in the big leagues for 29 years, and he's by far the best second baseman I've ever seen. Hitting, fielding -- he was the whole package. I think he should have gotten in the first time, but he's very deserving. I'm glad he's in."

Hirschbeck also noted (MLB.com), "If that's the worst thing Roberto Alomar ever does in his life, he's led a very good life."

And here's what Alomar had to say about Hirschbeck (MLB.com): "He and I have become great friends. I want people to know that the year I didn't make it, one of the first calls I got was from him. He said he felt sorry because maybe one of the reasons I didn't make it was because of the incident. I told him, 'No. It was not your fault. It was my fault.' John embraced me the same way I embraced him."

See, they've both long since moved on. Isn't it time everyone else gets on the same page and just forgets about it?

HARDEST TO HIT: The easy route in looking at the hardest pitchers to hit is looking at things like ERA, batting average against, OPS against, etc. But what about if you looked at hits per swing. For example, the hardest pitchers to hit would miss many bats and also -- when someone does get a bat on it -- would induce many foul balls. SB Nation took a look at the data since 2002 and found the 10 highest and lowest swing/hit percentages. It's interesting enough just to see the names on there and reminisce a bit. The thing I found most interesting, however, was that of the 10 guys who allowed the lowest percentage of hits per swing, nine were stud closers (Joe Nathan, Billy Wagner, etc.) and one was a starting pitcher. Randy Johnson? Nope. Roy Halladay? Justin Verlander. Nah, how about Chris Young. Shocking, eh?

WE'RE NO. 1: New Brewer Francisco Rodriguez blew a lead in the eighth inning Wednesday night and was caught displaying a middle finger on camera from the dugout afterward. Shockingly, the New York media are trying to make it out like a huge problem, in that K-Rod will disrupt the Brewers chemistry (New York Daily News). Yeah, I'm sure K-Rod's new teammates will be angry that he's aggravated at himself for blowing a lead and blame no one but himself. How dare he.

KEEPING HIS HEAD UP: Highly touted Royals prospect Mike Moustakas was promoted with great fanfare a little less than six weeks ago. He started strong, going five for his first 18 (.385) with a home run and 1.145 OPS. Since then he's struggled mightily, and he's in the midst of a horrifying stretch. The 22-year-old third baseman has only two hits in his last 47 at-bats and is zero for his last 22. But you have to give Moustakas credit, as he seems to have maturity beyond his years. “Yeah, I’m hitting .190 right now, but we won the last two ballgames and that’s what’s important," he told the Kansas City Star. Kudos to the young man. He'll come around, too.

MATUSZ SHELLED: Orioles starting pitcher Brian Matusz showed flashes of his immense potential in 2010, but this season has been a different story. The former top-five prospect battled an injury early in the season but returned to the O's in June. He was mercifully demoted to Triple-A after six starts and an 8.77 ERA. Thursday, though, he was no match for the minor-league hitters he faced, as Matusz was knocked around to the tune of eight hits and seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. (MiLB.com box score)

UNDERRATED STAT ALERT: When James Shields actually lets guys on base -- and his 1.01 WHIP says it doesn't happen often -- they most certainly aren't going to take a free base. Not only are runners 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts against Shields, but he's picked off 11 guys. And he's right-handed. (ESPN.com)

POUTING WORKS, PART DEUX: Earlier this week, we brought you the video of the young boy in San Francisco being upset that he didn't get a ball ... and then later getting a ball. This time around, we'll link to a story about a boy getting a baseball and then giving the ball to a younger boy who was upset. God love the charitable nature at such a young age. (Big League Stew)

SEEING HELPS: Aaron Miles was horrible in 2009 and not very good in 2010, but he's hitting .311 this season for the Dodgers. He believes the difference is that he had laser eye surgery in the offseason. (Los Angeles Times)

COCO'S 'FRO: Remember when Coco Crisp let out his dreadlocks and had a huge afro? Well, now there's a shirt to help the memory live on. Awesome. (MLB Shop)

JOSHY BLUE EYES: Much has been made of Josh Hamilton's woes during day games this season, as some have attempted to prove his blue eyes make it more difficult to see. Thursday, he tried some new sunglasses (MLB.com) that he thought were much more clear. Of course, he went 0-3 and ditched the glasses (ESPN Dallas).

A LOOK BACK: This time of year, each season, we hear rumors involving major-league players and mostly focus on the impact every move will have for the rest of the season. Sometimes deals -- such as the Mark Teixeira to the Braves trade -- end up proving quite costly for the acquiring team due to coughing up prospects. SB Nation took a look back at some recent deals that didn't happen but could have had a huge impact. For example, the A's reportedly could have gotten Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier for Joe Blanton back in 2007. Wow.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 11:24 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 11:38 am
 

On Deck: Runs at a premium in Toronto

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Dodging a dozen: Seattle's lost 11 games in a  row, but has shown signs of life in the first two games of the series in Toronto, scoring at least five runs in back-to-back games for the first time since June 2-3. Starter Doug Fister can only dream of that kind of support -- he is getting the worst run support in the majors at 2.03 per game and just one run in total for his last three starts. Overall he's 3-11 with a 3.18 ERA, a better ERA than Michael Pineda, Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester and David Price. His opponent, Ricky Romero owns the same 3.18 ERA, but hasn't gotten much help either. In the 12 of his starts that the team has lost, they've scored 24 runs. In his last start against the Mariners, he threw a five-hit complete game, but lost 3-2. Mariners at Blue Jays, 12:37 p.m. ET (Follow live)

C.J. WilsonJered WeaverAll-Star showdown: The Rangers' 12-game winning streak is over, and now they've got to face manager Ron Washington's choice to start All-Star Game, Angels right-hander Jered Weaver. In Phoenix, Washington said Weaver was one of the most intense competitors he'd ever faced. Not only is he a competitor, he's a heck of a pitcher. Weaver's 12-4 with a 1.90 ERA, the best mark in the majors. As good as he's been this season, he's been even better lately, going 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his last 10 outings. The man Washington is putting on the mound today isn't too bad either -- and he was in Phoenix as well -- as C.J. Wilson is 10-3 with a 3.11 ERA. He's 6-0 with a 2.80 ERA in his last 10 starts. Rangers at Angels, 3:35 p.m. ET (Follow live)

CC SabathiaHappy birthday CC: Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia will celebrate his 31st birthday at Tropicana Field on Thursday night. It marks the third time in his career he's started on his birthday, going 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA in 2002 and 2006. But it would be hard to be pitching better than Sabathia has recently, winning his last seven starts with an ERA of 1.68 over that span. In his last five starts, he's allowed just two runs and struck out 50 in 39 2/3 innings. On the other side is Big Game James Shields, who has a streak of his own -- four starts, all losses. Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:51 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Shields on consistency, confidence

By Matt Snyder

PHOENIX - Rays starting pitcher James Shields is having the best season of his six-year career by far. It has resulted in his first All-Star appearance. He had a 5.18 ERA last year and allowed more hits and earned runs than anyone else in baseball.

This season, however, he has a 2.33 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Not only that, but with seven complete games and three shutouts, he's more than doubled his previous career totals in each category. CBSSports.com got the chance to ask Shields what he's doing differently and if confidence has played a factor. And just for fun, we asked what is his favorite cliche to say to reporters.



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

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 11, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Killer lineup paces AL East All-Stars

Bautista
By Evan Brunell

2011 All-Star Game
SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West

This just in: The talent assembled in the AL East is really, really good.

Just take a gander at the lineup for the AL East All-Stars on your lower right. Where exactly is there a hole? It's so deep that Curtis Granderson leads off despite boasting the second-most homers in all of baseball, tied with teammate Mark Teixeira with 25 apiece behind only Jose Bautista. It's so deep that Yunel Escobar, who leads off for the Blue Jays, is slapped into the nine spot as a second leadoff man. No matter how good any of the other division all-stars are -- the NL East, NL Central and NL West, along with the AL counterparts in the Central and West -- there simply is no stopping the offensive barrage this lineup has.

Let's take a look at who makes up the lineup, plus whose strolling to the mound and getting a win virtually any time this team plays.

WietersC Matt Wieters, Orioles: Russell Martin got off to a strong start, but tailed off. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek have recovered from a lousy April, but April counts, plus the two split playing time. J.P. Arencibia is hitting .216/.280/.424. The Rays catchers... who are they, again? That leaves Wieters, who is hitting .267/.323/.410. Not great, but miles better than the average catcher is producing (.236/.305/.378 in the AL). He also receives strong marks for fielding and has caught 24 of a potential 54 would-be basestealers, a percentage that no other catcher is close to duplicating.

Gonzalez1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
: Freed from Petco Park, Gonzalez is annihilating pitchers in his first season with the Red Sox, rapping out a .352/.412/.589 line, slamming 17 home runs and contributing in virtually every facet of the game except stealing bases. And that's not necessary at all for Gonzalez to be one of the best players in the league.

Pedroia2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: Entering play Sunday, Pedroia and Cano were virtually the same hitter on offense, with a .373 mark in wOBA, essentially a better version of OPS, scaled to OBP. So why did Pedey get the nod? Because hitting's not the only part of the game -- fielding is. And there, Pedroia is flashing leather that could win the Gold Glove while Cano has slipped to being below average after showing progress in recent years.

ineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Curtis Granderson NYY CF
2 Dustin Pedroia BOS 2B
3 Jose Bautista TOR RF
4 Adrian Gonzalez BOS 1B
5 Alex Rodriguez NYY 3B
6 David Ortiz BOS DH
7 Ben Zobrist TB LF
8 Matt Wieters BAL C
9 Yunel Escobar TOR SS
Rodriguez3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: A-Rod may be 35 -- 36 later this month -- but that doesn't matter when throwing up a .295/.366/.485 mark in 344 plate appearances, showing that the possible eventual home-run king has plenty left in the tank. While Rodriguez just underwent the knife for knee surgery and will miss the next 4-6 weeks, he's still outproduced every third baseman in the division, which is no small feat with Kevin Youkilis in Boston and Evan Longoria down in Tampa. For those counting, A-Rod's 13 home runs bring him to a career 626.

EscobarSS Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
:
In the midst of what can only be characterized nicely as a bad year in 2010, Escobar was traded to the Blue Jays among questions about his maturity and commitment to the game. I think Toronto's happy with his commitment, as the Cuban has a cool .292/.368/.441 line. Yes, the AL East is rather thin on productive shortstops (sorry, Derek Jeter), but Escobar would deserve this spot in almost any other division.

ZobristLF Ben Zobrist, Rays
:
One could argue that Zobrist has been the most valuable Ray this year. While he's been primarily playing second base, he's also been one of the best hitters with a .272/.359/.480 line, stealing 10 bases and being a fantastic fielder. Zobrist has moved around the diamond so much, playing every position over his career other than catcher. He only played one game in left last year of a career 24, but you make the All-Star team not just on hitting, not just on fielding, not just on stealing, but how valuable you are. And the ability for Zobrist to move around the diamond and play any position is ginormous.

GrandersonCF Curtis Granderson, Yankees
:
As mentioned above, Granderson trails only Jose Bautista in home runs, having knocked 25. He's leading off because... well, just look at that lineup. But it also helps that he's corrected his struggles against left-handers, boasts a .362 OBP and has swiped 15 bags on the year. When New York first acquired Granderson prior to the 2009 season, many felt he had at least one 40-homer season in store thanks to the short right-field porch in (new) Yankee Stadium. That didn't happen last year, but barring injury or a major dropoff, Granderson will reach that mark this season for the first time in his career.

BautistaRF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
(pictured): File under "Duh." Joey Bats has been the best player in baseball by far this year. That's what happens when you have an unconscionable (in the post-steroids era, that is) 31 home runs by the All-Star break with a sterling .468 OBP. If his .702 slugging percentage holds up, he will be the first player to crack that mark since Barry Bonds with .812 in 2004. And if you don't count Bonds because of his "alleged" steroids use -- nor Sammy Sosa, the last person is Larry Walker way back in 1999 with a .710 mark. But the dude had Coors Field helping him. So let's move on and bypass Mark McGwire too. You land on Jeff Bagwell's .720 way back in 1994. That's nearly two decades ago. Two other players also broke the .700 mark in '94 -- Frank Thomas with .720 and Albert Belle with .714. Before that, you have to trot all the way back to 1957 and Ted Williams' .731 mark. And that's why he bats third in this lineup.

OrtizDH David Ortiz, Red Sox
:
Surprisingly -- at least, surprisingly to those who jumped in a time machine from any time prior to this April -- this was an easy choice. Big Papi has raked all year and will represent the AL in the All-Star Game on Tuesday as the starting DH. Showing power not seen since 2007, the lefty has blasted 19 home runs in 343 plate appearances and has trimmed his strikeout rate to 13.4 percent. That's a career low for Ortiz, who is hitting .304/.391/.579 overall.

ShieldsSP James Shields, Rays
: Let's take a look at where James Shields ranks among all pitchers entering play Sunday. Seventh in innings pitched with 134. Ninth in ERA with a 2.47 mark and sixth in xFIP (ERA minus all the things pitchers aren't entirely responsible for, such as qualify of the defense behind him) with a 2.87 line. Ninth in K/BB ratio with a even 4.00 mark on the strength of 132 strikeouts against just 34 walks (one intentional). He's also tied with Roy Halladay in complete games with six. But we've got to put that in past tense, as Shields registered yet another complete game on Sunday, allowing just one unearned run to drop his ERA to 2.33. There's no question he belongs here.

RobertsonRP David Robertson, Yankees
:
Roberson has really come on this year and brings the heat with an average fastball velocity of 93 mph, pairing it with a curveball that befuddles batters. All that's handed him 56 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. We'll forgive his 23 walks given he's causing batters to windmill enough to power all of New York City, if not the state. Potentially Mariano Rivera's successor down the line, he has a 1.27 ERA on the year, with a more sane -- but still excellent -- 2.57 xFIP.

RiveraCL Mariano Rivera, Yankees
:
If this feature had been running since Rivera first became closer way back in 1997, he's probably working on a 15-year streak. Oh well, he'll settle for being the inaugural AL East closer. Rivera has had some triceps issues lately, but that hasn't prevented him from being his usual automatic self, racking up 22 saves with a 1.85 ERA -- his fourth straight season with an ERA under 2.00 and eighth of nine seasons.

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

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