Tag:Joey Votto
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 10:39 pm
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Hustle, good at-bats spark Reds rally

Reds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

CINCINNATI -- Ramon Hernandez didn't expect to hit the game-winning homer -- even after it left his bat. All he was thinking was he wasn't making the last out.

He didn't, his three-run homer off of Brewers closer John Axford gave the Reds a 7-6 win on opening day, capping a four-run ninth inning for the defending National League Central champions.

"I have no clue how I hit it out, to be honest," Hernandez said after his 334-foot home run landed in the Brewers bullpen in right field of Great American Ball Park.

But he knew how he got there -- with help from his teammates, and Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee.

Ramon Hernandez "It took a three-run homer to win it, but you can't hit a three-run homer with nobody on," Reds left fielder Jonny Gomes said.

It was what led up to that homer that typified why the Reds led the National League in runs scored a year ago en route to their division title -- hustle and good at-bats.

The inning started with a Brandon Phillips single, which was followed by Joey Votto working a walk. With two on and still no outs, Scott Rolen hit a slow grounder to third, where McGehee fielded it and tried to tag Phillips going to third.

"I thought he was going to go to second, but when I saw him reach out with the glove, that's when I went into my Matrix mode and got out of the way," Phillips said.

McGehee felt he pushed Phillips far enough out of the baseline to get the out before throwing to first, where Rolen beat out the throw. Third-base umpire Dan Bellino ruled Phillips safe at third.

Rolen joked that he was thinking double out of the box, but then said he was just trying to get down the line fast enough not to be doubled up. When he looked up, he saw bases loaded.

After Jay Bruce struck out, Gomes was trying to avoid a game-ending double play and nearly ended the game in a different way, by hitting it over the wall. However, his liner went to the deepest part of the park for a sacrifice fly, scoring Phillips and brining up Hernandez.

"You saw two great hustle plays with Brandon and Scott in the same play," Gomes said. "What you're trying to do there, is extend the inning and not give up outs.

"That's what we did. When you start with a positive note, it's contagious and you're almost a goat if you don't do that. When you're not hustling to first, when you're not avoiding tags, you're the goat. It's a special group of guys here."

With an 0-1 count, Axford's 93 mph fastball stayed up and got over the plate. Hernandez crushed it, watching it and raising his hands in celebration before he even reached first base, while manager Dusty Baker danced what appeared to be a jig in the dugout.

"When you have all your teammates waiting for you because you just won a ballgame, it's one of the best feelings you can ever feel," said Hernandez, whose homer capped a four-hit day. "Celebrating with your teammates is the best part."

It's something the Reds have plenty of practice at. Last year they were second in the big leagues with 45 come-from-behind wins and tied for second with 22 wins in their last at-bat, including Bruce's walk-off, division-clincher last September.

Shortstop Paul Janish, who along with starter Edinson Volquez were the only different starters from last year's opening day lineup, called the hitting "infectious."

Rolen called it "good baseball," while Drew Stubbs called it "magic."

Whatever it was, it was fun.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Rangers, Hamilton agree to 2-year deal

Josh Hamilton The Rangers and Josh Hamilton have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a two-year deal for $24 million, Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman tweets .

Hamilton was in his second year of arbitration. The deal buys out his arbitration years, but will still be a free agent following the 2012 season.

Hamilton was asking for a record $12 million in arbitration, while the Rangers were offering $8.7 million.

In a somewhat interesting tangent, both MVPs this season were arbitration-eligible and avoided arbitration by having their remaining arbitration seasons bought out, but giving up no free agent years. Joey Votto signed a three-year, $38 million deal with the Reds.

On the surface, it seems like a great deal for the Rangers, who were facing a losing proposition in arbitration. So not only do they pay him the $12 million he'd presumably make this season, but also keeps him around the same rate for next season. For Hamilton, he gets that money the next two years and doesn't lose his free agency leverage.

UPDATE: Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets Hamilton will make $7.25 million this season and $13.75 million next season, plus a $3 million coming as a signing bonus.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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



Category: MLB
Posted on: January 27, 2011 6:03 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2011 6:16 pm
 

Reds not looking to trade Alonso

Yonder Alonso 'Tis the season for prospect lists, and one player on most of the lists is Reds first baseman Yonder Alonso. And one thing that shows up on all the lists is that he's blocked at the big-league level by National League MVP Joey Votto.

Alonso played some outfield last season, but he's simply not fast enough to play out there, he's really just a first baseman. Alonso was ranked the No. 49 prospect in baseball by MLB.com and No. 65 by ESPN.com's Keith Law. He's ranked the Reds' fourth-best prospect by Baseball America .

Alonso signed a major-league deal when he was drafted in 2008. Because of that, he'll be out of options after this season and seems to be certain to be traded. However, Bill Bavasi, the team's vice president of scouting, player development and international operations, said Wednesday at a fundraiser that the team wasn't interested in trading Alonso.

“We won’t trade him,” Bavasi said, according to the Dayton Daily News ' Hal McCoy . “We’ve tried him in the outfield and he gets to ball he should get to, but he doesn’t have the speed to make the great plays. But we can’t move him. He is exactly the kind of player Walt [Jocketty] loves -- he hits the ball hard, puts the ball in play, doesn’t strike out. I’m not so sure it would do him any good to sit on the bench this year so he’ll probably go back [to Class AAA Louisville] and play and work. He won’t be kept just to pinch-hit because it is tough for a kid to learn to do that.”

The Reds signed Votto to a three-year deal this month, buying out his arbitration years, but he will still be a free agent after the 2013 season. That seems too long to have Alonso sitting on the bench as a pinch-hitter, so the team almost has to trade him for a useful piece. He can be the perfect bit of trade bait if the Reds are looking for something at the trade deadline to put them over the hump, if they're still in the improved National League Central -- of course, other teams know they have to trade him, too, so Bavasi is likely just sandbagging.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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



Posted on: January 26, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2011 4:19 pm
 

Reds working on locking up young players

I just got back from the Johnny Cueto news conference in Cincinnati. Even though the Cueto deal was known since last week, it was the other stuff that was a little more interesting.

First of all, the 5 p.m. news conference started at 5:05 p.m. because Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was talking to Edinson Volquez's agent on the phone. With Cueto signed, Volquez is the last arbitration-eligible player the Reds have.

Edinson Volquez "There's no update. We continue to negotiate and we're talking to them about both a one-year and a multi-year deal and hopefully we get something resolved soon," Jocketty said.

The team hasn't gone to arbitration since 2004 and Jocketty said he's "sure" they won't go to arbitration with Volquez, even if it's a one-year deal.

It would fit in with what the Reds have done this offseason, buying out the arbitration years of not only Cueto, but also Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, all in their first year of arbitration.

"We felt that it's important to solidify the core of this club for a number of years, know where our cost will be on certain, key players over the next three or four years and build from there," Jocketty said. "We'll build with the young players we have on the 40-man roster now and the number of guys that are coming here in the next couple of years."

He did warn that if the fans don't come out to Great American Ball Park, the team may have to say goodbye to the likes of Votto, Cueto and the team's other young talent.

"At some point when Johnny gets beyond this contract and Votto and some of the other guys, we're not sure if we're going to be able to sign these guys again," Jocketty said. "So we have to have players that will be able to step in and take over. Hopefully we can do that, it just depends on how our revenues and what we're able to generate over the next couple of years and if we continue to win, I think we will. I think our attendance will improve and our revenues will improve and we'll be in great shape to try to re-sign these guys."

Votto signed a three-year deal, taking him up to his free-agent years, while Cueto gave up a free-agent year and the Reds also have a club option for a second. Cueto, 24, will earn $3.4 million this season, $5.4 in 2012, $7.4 million in 2013 and $10 million in 2014. The Reds have a $10 million option for 2015 with an $800,000 buyout.

Bruce signed the longest deal, going through 2016 with a  club option for 2017.

Volquez has asked for $2 million and the Reds have offered $1.3 million.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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



Posted on: January 21, 2011 4:10 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Reds talking extension with Volquez

Edinson Volquez So far this offseason, the Reds have done little to change their team -- for 2011 or beyond.

The biggest moves made by the NL Central champs have been extensions for Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto. They've avoided arbitration for the next three with Votto, Bruce and Cueto. Another first-time arbitration eligible player is right-hander Edinson Volquez, and the Reds are looking to buy out his arbitration-eligible years, as well.

"We're looking at both -- one-year and multi-year," general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer . "We're hopeful that we'll get something done."

Volquez is the team's last arbitration-eligible player. He submitted a request of $2 million, while the Reds countered at $1.3 million.

Volquez, an All-Star in 2008, was acquired in a trade for Josh Hamilton in Dec., 2007. He was suspended for 50 games last season after testing positive for a substance on the banned list, though he has claimed it was a fertility drug he used by prescription from a doctor in the Dominican Republic in order to start a family with his wife.

Volquez was coming off Tommy John surgery. Volquez was 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA last season, a year after going 4-2 with a  4.35 ERA. He was 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 2007.

The Reds have made avoiding arbitration a priority this offseason -- while Votto's deal was only for his three arbitration years, they got three arbitration years and one free-agent year from Cueto and the arbitration years and three free agent years for the "Super Two."  The team also avoided arbitration with left-handed reliever Bill Bray. Cincinnati hasn't gone to arbitration with a player since 2004.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: January 16, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Reds, Votto agree to 3-year deal

Joey Votto The Reds have agreed to a three-year deal with National League MVP Joey Votto worth $38 million, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports .

The Reds avoid arbitration with Votto, buying out all three years of his deal, but Votto doesn't give up any free agent years with the extension. The deal is pending a physical, which is expected to take place on Monday.

Votto, 27, led the National League in on-base percentage (.424) and slugging (.600), and was the overwhelming winner of the National League MVP, getting 31 of 32 first-place votes.

The Reds drafted Votto in the second round of the 2002 draft out of Canada and he made his debut in late 2007 before earning the starting first baseman's job in 2008, when he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Cubs catcher Geovony Soto.

Votto was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and had been reluctant to discuss a long-term deal.

In December, Votto told reporters he couldn't fathom signing a 10-year deal like Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki.

"I don't know as far as beyond three years, I think it's a real unfair question to ask," Votto said (via Sheldon ). "This is not me saying I don't want to be here. But last year was a difficult year for me. This year was a better year for me. It's really hard for me to think three years ahead, five years ahead, seven years ahead or 10 years ahead. When Tulowitzki signed that 10-year contract, I was blown away. I can't imagine seeing myself 10 years from now saying I want to be here. It's an overwhelming thing to ask a young person like myself and say, 'here's a lot of money, be happy with this over 10 years, deal with it.'"

Votto's new deal will buy out his arbitration-eligible years. As a first-year arbitration-eligible player, the three-year deal will not affect his free agent status, he'll still be a free agent following the 2013 season.

For the small-market Reds, they now have payroll certainty -- they know exactly what they'll be spending for one of the game's best young players of the next three years.

Arbitration numbers are due this week, and it's possible Votto could seek to equal or top Ryan Howard's record $10 million judgement. He will now average more than that over the next three seasons, but with another MVP-type season, Votto could ask for even more.

It's not without risk for Cincinnati -- the team is essentially banking on the fact Votto will improve from his breakout season in 2010, when he hit .324/.424/.600 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI. In 2009, Votto missed chunks of time dealing with depression and panic attacks following the sudden loss of his father. He also suffered with vertigo-like symptoms.

Cincinnati also locked up its other young talent, Jay Bruce, earlier this offseason. Bruce, who was arbitration-eligible as a "Super Two", signed a six-year deal worth $51 million to avoid arbitration.

The Reds, who haven't gone to arbitration with a player since 2004, have three arbitration-eligible players remaining, left-handed reliever Bill Bray and right-handed starters Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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





Posted on: January 16, 2011 10:32 am
Edited on: January 16, 2011 10:35 am
 

Reds 'working hard' on deal with Votto

Joey Votto The Reds are "working hard" at a three-year contract for National League MVP Joey Votto, Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman tweets .

Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty has repeatedly said this offseason that he hoped to avoid arbitration and work out a long-term deal with his first baseman.

Votto is arbitration-eligible for the first time and Heyman suggests a deal would be for three years, buying out his arbitration-eligible years, and still allow Votto to be eligible for free agency following the 2013 season. Heyman tweets the deal would "likely" be for "about $37 million." That would give Votto a large payday, as well as give the Reds cost certainty for the next three years.

Earlier this offseason, the team signed Jay Bruce -- arbitration-eligible as a "Super Two" -- to a six-year deal worth $51 million, also avoiding arbitration.

Votto is one of four arbitration-eligible Reds remaining, along with left-handed reliever Bill Bray and right-handed starters Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez. Cincinnati hasn't gone to arbitration with a player since 2004, when the team beat Chris Reitsma.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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



Posted on: December 16, 2010 2:19 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2010 3:49 pm
 

Top 10 baseball storylines from 2010

Honorable Mention CBSSports.com will be revealing its Top 10 Stories of the 2010 season next week, but here at MLB Facts and Rumors we're going to reveal our own Top 10 list, sans the storylines that will be appearing on the overall list.

Here's the top storylines from the 2010 season that didn't make the cut:

  10. Felix Hernandez wins AL Cy Young
The Mariners ace ran away with the Cy Young Award after posting a 2.27 ERA (3.26 xFIP), whiffing 232 in 249 2/3 innings and walking just 70 batters and posting a 13-12 record.

Wait, what?

Yup -- a starting pitcher won the Cy Young with a 13-12 record. Now, there have been past winners who had shoddy records, but in light of Zack Greinke's victory in 2009 with "just" a 16-8 record, it's clear that wins are being marginalized -- and that's a good thing.

Hernandez The majority of GMs and front-office executives understand the fallacy of judging a pitcher's performance on wins. After all, for a pitcher to get a win, the offense and defense play important parts -- and one could argue the offense plays a more important role. Hernandez was clearly the best pitcher in the league (although CC Sabathia did get short shrift) and deserves the award, but could you have seen this coming just five years ago?

Nope. We're in the middle of a seismic shift where advanced statistics are starting to take hold in mainstream media -- for the better. While the statistics used in the sabermetric community (such as xFIP, which is quoted often in this blog) will always be ahead of mainstream media, the mere fact one can find national writers quoting ERA+ is a positive.

  9. End of an era for legendary managers
Four managers with impressive pedigrees saw their managerial careers come to an end (well -- for now).

In Toronto, Cito Gaston ended his return to the managerial ranks by guiding the team to a 85-77 record. Of course, Gaston will be remembered more for his original stint as a Blue Jay where he won back-to-back World Series titles.

Cox Lou Piniella was another to exit stage left, stepping down near the end of yet another disappointing season as Cubs skipper. Piniella takes with him a 116-win season (2001 Mariners) and World Series ring (1990 Reds) along with 1,835 victories.

Joe Torre joins Piniella as another ex-Yankees manager who retired. After Torre bounced around from the Mets to Braves to Cardinals, he landed with the Yankees with almost 15 years experience and then turned into a star. He won four titles in five seasons and remained in New York for 12 years. He just finished up a three-year stint with the Dodgers that saw him win an additional two division titles and retire with 2,326 victories.

Last, but definitely not least, is Bobby Cox (pictured). Cox managed the Braves for 25 years from 1978-81 and then again from 1990-2010. In between, he managed the Blue Jays and served as Atlanta's general manager. Cox had just three losing seasons as Braves manager, going 40-57 in 1990, 79-83 in 2006 and 72-90 in 2008. He oversaw the vaunted trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz and won 100-plus games five times, capturing his World Series ring in 1995. All told, he won 2,504 games and lost 2,001.

  8. Chase for Triple Crown
At one point during the season, a Triple Crown was a distinct possibility in both the AL and NL. Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera had a showdown in the AL, but Hamilton's missing most of September cut short any possibility of winning the Triple Crown. Hamilton beat Cabrera in batting average, .359 to .328, but Miggy bested Hamilton with 38 homers to the Ranger's 32. (Jose Bautista pulled away from the field with 54 home runs, but this was a lot closer in July and August than it ended up being.) Cabrera overcame Bautista to win the RBI title with 126 ribbies, and Hamilton was 12th with 100 RBI on the nose.

Pujols The NL was a lot more closer with the combatants as Joey Votto and Albert Pujols (pictured). Pujols ended up with 118 RBI, Votto 113 -- but the reigning NL MVP beat Pujols in batting average with a .324 mark as compared to Phat Albert's .312. (Carlos Gonzalez won the title with a .336 mark.) Ah, but Pujols walked away the home-run king with 42 bombs, Votto cranking 37.

  7. Rookies of the Year
In the AL, two rookies grabbed everyone's attention with center fielder Austin Jackson flourishing in Detroit and Neftali Feliz notching 40 saves. A slow start derailed Brian Matusz's hype in Baltimore, but by the end of the year it was looking like he could be the ace many had predicted him to be.

The real story was in the NL, where there was a plethora of candidates in Buster Posey, Ike Davis, Mike Leake, Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward, Madison Bumgarner, Ian Desmond, David Freese, Mike Stanton, Travis Wood, Pedro Alvarez, Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Jose Tabata, Jon Niese...

Yep, there was a bona fide youth movement in the NL this year, and it should be one fun league to watch over the next few seasons. In any other given year, at least five, if not more, could have won Rookie of the Year awards. But they didn't.

Posey So, who actually got the Rookie of the Year Awards?

The AL honor went to Feliz for his 40 saves in 69 1/3 innings, punching out 71 and walking 18. He has the potential to be a stud closer for years... or could be moved back to the rotation. Your move, Texas.

In the NL, Buster Posey (pictured) whisked the award away from Jason Heyward with a .305/.357/.505 line in 443 plate appearances, bashing 18 home runs and leading the Giants to the World Series. Nah, he didn't set any expectations for himself.

  6. Dodger Divorce
This storyline isn't quite over, but 2010 saw the sordid trial and subsequent decision by the judge that both Frank and Jamie McCourt own the Dodgers. Whether or not this pushes the team to sell isn't known yet, but this was a divorce that captured the hearts of tabloids and overshadowed the constant Hollywood marital troubles that plague movie celebrities.

At the crux of the issue were two separate agreements that detailed either Frank (pictured below left) possessing sole ownership of the club, or both. Frank's lawyer admitted he made changed to the marital agreement without notifying Jamie or her representatives that gave Frank sole ownership.

With the agreement nullified, Frank is pursuing other avenues to be declared the sole owner while Jamie and representatives say that the Dodgers must be treated like community property. While there's still more battles to be had, the war is over: both McCourts own the team and it's difficult to fathom both co-existing, which will lead to the team's sale.

 
McCourt 5. Year of the Pitcher
Six no-hitters were thrown in 2010, a remarkable achievement. Only two other times were six no-hitters thrown, and that's not including the Perfect Game That Wasn't in Armando Galarraga's perfecto.

Ubaldo Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in Rockies franchise history against the Braves on April 17 to get the no-nos started. Matt Garza also tossed a franchise-first no-hitter, doing so for the Rays vs. the Tigers on July 26, the final no-hitter of the regular season.

Dallas Braden then followed that up with a perfect game against the Rays on May 9th, adding a nice little wrinkle to the earlier flap with Alex Rodriguez, when he yelled at the third baseman to "get off my mound." Rodriguez responded in Pedro Martinez form , asking just who the heck Braden was. Cue perfect game. Now people know who Braden is.

New Phillie Roy Halladay (pictured) followed in Braden's footsteps 20 days later, pitching perfect against the Marlins May 29.

Edwin Jackson joined in on the fun June 25th, throwing an incredible 149 pitches to notch a no-no for the Diamondbacks.

Lastly, Halladay did perhaps the most impressive feat of all, blanking the Reds in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on October 6. It's the second no-hitter to be thrown in the postseason, behind Don Larsen's perfecto in 1956. He was one walk in the 5th away from a second perfect game.

Halladay That wasn't all that made the year all about pitchers, however. Fifteen hurlers tied the all-time record for most pitchers with at least 200 strikeouts, paced by Jered Weaver's 233 whiffs.

  4. George Steinbrenner passes
Steinbrenner was someone who loomed over baseball from Day One upon his acquisition of the Yankees in 1973. Brash and loud, Steinbrenner wouldn't accept any form of losing and while New York won two World Series in 1976-77 and appeared in two others in 1976 and 1981, New York quickly fell into obscurity as Steinbrenner's demands weren't the way a club should be run.

His overturn of management personnel was rough as well, as 20 managers served under his watch over his first 23 seasons, Billy Martin the poster boy for this overturn. Steinbrenner was also suspended for 15 months after the 1974 season for illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon. It wouldn't be his last suspension.

Despite this, however, the Yankees reinvigorated a brand that had been dormant for a decade. Then, the best thing that could have happened to New York did with King George's second suspension, handed out for paying a gambler for trying to dig up information on star Dave Winfield, whom Steinbrenner had made the highest-paid player in baseball history at the time before clashing with the Hall of Famer.

This allowed Gene Michael, the GM, to take over day-to-day Yankees business and upon Steinbrenner's reinstatement in 1993, he was more willing to be hands off -- as hands off as he could be, anyways.

This shift led the Yankees to their glory years behind Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, and so on. The Yankees captured four World Series in a five-year span, three straight from 1998-2000. They would continue to be the face of baseball throughout the beginning of the 21st century and captured another World Series in 2009, the last postseason Steinbrenner would see.

Steinbrenner The Boss passed on the morning of the 2010 All-Star Game, July 13. With that, the Yankees lost perhaps their most influential and important owner in franchise history (although one could make a case for Jacob Ruppert ).

  3. Cliff Lee Watch
On MLB Facts and Rumors, Cliff Lee has been written more than any other player -- and team. The Cliff Lee tag beats out the Diamondbacks, Pirates, Orioles, Rockies, Padres, Blue Jays, Tigers, Brewers, Royals, Angels, Athletics, Astros and Indians. That's a lot.

That's not all, however. There's also a Cliff Lee Watch tag, detailing his adventures through trades and free agency. What does that top? Well, Derek Jeter for one. Only Adam Dunn, Stephen Strasburg and Lee himself are the only players that top that tag. Yep, that means Derek Jeter, Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton... they've all been written about less than Lee's nomadic career.

Wow.

Lee is truly a journalist's dream, with the specter of free agency and constant trades keeping Lee at the forefront of the news. First Lee was dealt to the Phillies, and their push to the World Series provided plenty of fodder. Then you had Lee being traded to the Mariners and the head-scratching element of Philly turning around and acquiring Roy Halladay.

Lee Then the Mariners flailed, and Lee was in a tug of war between the Rangers and Yankees. With Texas, he advanced to the World Series yet again, but hit free agency and we all know how that turned out.

Lee has been a big part of baseball coverage the last two years, and especially this year as he went from the Phillies to Mariners to Rangers and back to Philadelphia. I've never quite seen a player sustain coverage this long in so many different ways.

  2. Strasmas
Cliff Lee may have dominated the off-the-field storylines, but Stephen Strasburg was a phenom on the field. He rocketed through the minors, with each of his farm starts must-see status.

Then: his debut.

Seven innings, two earned runs, no walks, 14 strikeouts -- and a whole lot of Nationals fans grinning ear to ear. He reached 100 mph on two pitches, and 34 of 94 pitches broke the 98-mph barrier.

It didn't stop there, as Strasmas blew through city after city, leaving shell-shocked players in its wake as Strasburg racked up 92 strikeouts in 68 innings over 12 starts. He posted a 2.91 ERA while walking just 17 and was an instant ace. Even a disabled-list stint in July for shoulder inflammation wasn't enough to curb the hype.

Until August 21.

Strasburg Then, Tommy John surgery showed up in Strasburg's stocking as a big lump of coal.

Strasburg was one of the most hyped pitchers of all time (David Clyde 's got nothing on this guy) and delivered with TJ surgery providing the rock bottom. And all the while, tons of ink was devoted to Strasburg. In fact, Strasburg was the most-written about player on MLB Facts and Rumors until Lee got sent to Texas.

  1. Jim Joyce blows Armando Galarraga's perfect game
What more can one say about this?

It was a brutal reminder to all that baseball simply needs instant replay. In this day and age, an "aw shucks, I messed up" isn't enough. Fans want to know that what they see on the field is legitimate. How many times do you hear about the 1985 World Series-winning Royals without the name Jorge Orta added?

How about the 1996 Yankees, who have to tote around Jeffrey Maier as part of its legacy?
Galarraga and Joyce
Imagine what would have happened in the 2004 ALCS had the original call of Mark Bellhorn's double had been upheld, as well as Alex Rodriguez's purse-slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove?

Give Joyce credit for owning up to blowing the call and being genuinely bothered by the fact Armando Galarraga lost his shot at history on a blown call.

Give credit too, for Galarraga and the Tigers for being incredibly gracious. The actions of the two involved defused what could have been a powder-keg situation. (Just look at the picture -- talk about reconciliation.)

That doesn't change what happened, though. And what happened was this: Armando Galarraga lost a perfecto on the final out of the game in which there is irrefutable proof that the batter was out.

In the Year of the Pitcher with Lee and Strasburg as the most-talked about players and amidst the slow advent (and inevitable arrival) of expanded instant replay, it's perhaps fitting that this storyline heads the list of top storylines of the baseball season that did not make the all-inclusive Top 10 sports list, due to run on CBSSports.com next week.

-- Evan Brunell

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