Posted on: September 2, 2010 1:09 am

Forgiving Trop rewards Maddon

Joe Maddon
Joe Maddon basically rules. He's the smartest person you'll even run across, insightful, witty and educated. Because of all those attributes, he can do things like claim that Tropicana Field dodged a baseball because he apologized to it on Twitter, and people don't think he's a crackpot.

As you might remember, the Rays lost a game last month due to a ball hitting one of the Trop's catwalks, sending Maddon on a tirade about how it was proof Tampa needed a "real" ballpark. Maddon detailed on Twitter how he made his peace with the ballpark:
most recent whine was my getting on Trop roof, have since apologized to said roof and r now on much better terms, maybe best ever...
Wednesday night against Toronto, visions of the catwalk game came rushing back as a ball hit by John Buck with two outs in the ninth soared deep to left field. If it had hit the catwalk, it would have counted as a two-run, go-ahead homer. But it dropped into Carl Crawford's glove and the Rays won 2-1.

"I have made amends with the building, and I have promised not to whine again, and I think because of that, that's why the ball missed something," Maddon told reporters afterward. "It was going to hit something, but it missed something. I think I actually saw the catwalk move several inches to avoid that ball."

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 1, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 4:22 pm

Evaluating the AL Rookie of the Year race

There has been an abundance of quality rookies hitting the majors in 2010... except most of them are in the National League.

In the American League, it's a decidedly different story. Oh sure, there's plenty of talent here -- of the names below, plenty of All-Star Game appearances will be racked up.

Brennan Boesch LF/RF Brennan Boesch
Detroit Tigers
.269/.329/.452, 432 PA, 41 R, 21 2B, 14 HR, 61 RBI, -1.7 UZR/150, 0 DRS, 1.4 WAR

Brennan Boesch's second half of the season has been the complete opposite of the first half, when Boesch burst on the scene with an exclamation mark. Still, his first half was so strong, he deserves real consideration for the award -- and if he can pull off a hot September, could actually make a run for it. His .342/.397/.593 OPS in 267 first-half plate appearances is nothing short of incredible, especially given Boesch was an unheralded prospect. In the second half, he has a paltry .152./218/.225, unsurprising given regression to the mean and his lacking peripherals. Still, his overall line remains strong enough to contend in a diluted pool of candidates.

Wade Davis SP Wade Davis
Tampa Bay Rays
11-9, 134 1/3 IP, 4.29 ERA, 51 BB, 85 K, 4.96 xFIP, 0.3 WAR

Davis hasn't had his season go entirely to plan, but is the only starting pitcher worthy of consideration with 11 wins and an ERA approximating a solid starter even if his xFIP points out that he's in actuality, a back-of-the-rotation starter. He'll likely top 100 strikeouts and will have his case bolstered by being a year-long member of a rotation that made the postseason. Davis skidded in June with a 6.00 ERA, but has turned his season back around and so far in August, is having his best month in peripherals.

Neftali Feliz CL Neftali Feliz
Texas Rangers
33 SV, 57 IP, 3.32 ERA, 16 BB, 59 K, 3.77 xFIP, 1.2 WAR

The prohibitive favorite, Feliz has notched 33 saves for the AL West-leading Rangers and done so in spectacular fashion, blowing away hitters left and right when he trots in from the dugout. Even though Texas should try to slot him in the rotation long-term, for now, he's been everything the Rangers needed at the end of a ballgame. If he can get to 40 saves in September, he should have the award all but locked up. Austin Jackson is Feliz's biggest competition for an award, and how both players produce in September will dictate the outcome.

Austin Jackson CF Austin Jackson

Detroit Tigers
.304/.357/.406, 542 PA, 83 R, 29 2B, 8 3B, 2 HR, 29 RBI, 3.4 UZR/150, 19 DRS, 3.1 WAR

Jackson has been quite lucky this season -- there's no denying that. However, there's also no denying that he can hit for contact despite a lack of walks and a propensity of strikeouts. He's also one of the best fielders in the game, which goes a long way towards giving him the best WAR ahead of anyone else on the list. Simply put -- he's contributed the most wins to a team of any rookie in the league. It's possible Jackson could lose some votes to teammate Boesch.

Sergio Santos RP Sergio Santos
Chicago White Sox
42 IP, 2.36 ERA, 22 BB, 43 K, 4.18 xFIP, 0.6 WAR

Why Santos on this list? Because unlike the rest of the rookie candidates, he's the last remaining who has made a tangible impact on his team's season. Santos has quickly morphed from a light-hitting infielder to one of the best relievers in the game, and closing may be in his future. Until then, he still has much to learn about pitching -- but not much to learn about how to throw a fastball. A big reason the White Sox are in contention is due to Santos, J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton all but putting the seventh and eighth innings out of reach.

Apologies to: Brian Matusz, Mitch Talbot

 -- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: August 31, 2010 10:51 am
Edited on: August 31, 2010 12:52 pm

Dissecting AL MVP race

MVP award There are plenty of players in the American League who are deserving of a MVP, but only one can win and there's no shortage of top candidates this season to take home the hardware.

So who's most likely to nab the MVP? Candidates include someone who would be a Triple Crown-lock if not for career seasons by two others, a second baseman establishing himself as the best in the game and someone hitting .408 since the beginning of June.

Metrics below include batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and standard counting statistics of runs, doubles, homers and RBI. Included are also two defensive measures -- Ultimate Zone Range prorated over 150 games and Defensive Runs Saved, which is not prorated. Together, both metrics give great insight into a player's defense. Wins Above Replacement is the final statistic, combining offense and defense to come up with a number that shows how many wins above a replacement player the player provides. MVPs generally end up around 10 by the end of the season.

Adrian Beltre Adrian Beltre
Boston Red Sox
.323/.362/.551, 68 R, 38 2B, 23 HR, 88 RBI, 13.6 UZR/150, 15 DRS, 5.7 WAR

Beltre has been everything the Red Sox wanted and more. If Kevin Youkilis was healthy, he may be on this list instead of Beltre -- but he's not. Besides, Beltre plays the more demanding defensive position than Youk and other than some hiccups in the early part of the season, has been a vacuum. He's slowly becoming a cult hero in town due to his on-one-knee home runs and curious aversion to having his head touched. If Boston storms back to somehow nab a postseason spot (hint: it won't), Beltre would likely win the MVP.

Miguel Cabrera Miguel Cabrera
Detroit Tigers
.342/.437/.647, 94 R, 41 2B, 33 HR, 107 RBI, -7.5 UZR/150, -7 DRS, 6.0 WAR

Cabrera is doing it all this year: he's second in batting average, runs scored, home runs, doubles and leads the league in RBI. Just... wow. Not only is he having a Triple Crown-worthy season, he's also right there in non-Triple Crown stats like runs and doubles. His blemish is defense, where he clearly struggles which knocks his value down. If the Tigers made the playoffs, there wouldn't be much doubt about Cabrera's victory in the race. As is, however, he'll face stiff competition.

Robinson Cano Robinson Cano
New York Yankees
.325/.388/.563, 92 R, 36 2B, 26 HR, 90 RBI, 3.6 UZR/150, 12 DRS, 6.3 WAR

Cano has emerged to put together what is to date the 33rd best OPS by a second baseman in baseball's history -- with Rogers Hornsby responsible for the first five and seven of the first eight. So OK, Cano is no Hornsby but looking back at just the last 25 years, Cano's mark would rank sixth on the list. Either way you slice it, this kind of offense from a second baseman is not common. Cano doesn't have much plate discipline but that's largely irrelevant when you're hitting .325 and racking up extra-base hits. In addition, his fielding has taken another step forward. Will it be enough to finish in front of Cabrera? Given Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have all had off-seasons, it may be enough as Cano has largely carried the pinstriped offense.

Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton
Texas Rangers
.359/.411./637, 92 R, 39 2B, 31 HR, 95 RBI, 6.5 UZR/150, 5 DRS, 7.5 WAR

Since June 1, Hamilton has hit for a ridiculous .408/.459/.722 line and has combined that with strong defense to pace the AL in WAR -- no easy feat. He's certainly got to be considered the prohibitive favorite for the MVP, as the Rangers are 8 1/2 games ahead in first, headed to their first postseason berth since 1999. While Hamilton won't get the Triple Crown, a sizzling finish could vault him ahead of Cabrera in home runs and RBI -- leaving his only roadblock to the coveted distinction Jose Bautista's 42 dingers.

Evan Longoria Evan Longoria
Tampa Bay Rays
.297/.372/.514, 83 R, 42 2B, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 11.6 UZR/150, 13 DRS, 5.8 WAR

The AL East boasts three candidates, which just goes to show you how competitive the division is with three playoff-caliber teams, with Longoria a big part of one of them in the Rays. He's among the game's premier defenders and while you'd like to see more home runs out of a MVP candidate, he's been Tampa's most consistent and elite offensive performer. However, his numbers just don't stack up to anyone else on the list except Beltre.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: August 30, 2010 11:22 pm

Empty seats in Tampa, Cincinnati

Jay Bruce Playoff fever has apparently not caught on in at least two first-place cities -- Tampa and Cincinnati.

Monday night the Rays drew 11,968 against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field, while the Reds had just 14,589 at Great American Ball Park for the start of a series against the Brewers.

The Rays' crowd was the third-smallest of the season in Tampa, while the Reds' smattering of fans was its fewest since June 9

Another first-place team, the Atlanta Braves, weren't that much better, getting 18,842 for their game with the Mets.

The Yankees were the other first-place team at home on Monday and they had 46,356 at their game against the A's.

The Reds are 19th in the big leagues in average attendance at 25,897 -- but that is up more than 4,000 people a game over 2009, when the team averaged 21,579 per contest.

Tampa Bay is averaging 22,941 per game, a tad below its 23,147 average last season.

San Diego is also in first place and the Padres are 20th in attendance, with 25,843 per game. Atlanta is averaging 30,545 per contest this season, 14th in the majors.

A lot of places had school start on Monday, but there'll be school in session Tuesday and with Aroldis Chapman coming up in Cincinnati, don't expect another sparse crowd at Great American Ball Park.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 30, 2010 12:14 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 8:45 pm

Handicapping the AL Cy Young Award race

Cy Young award As August draws to a close, the candidates to win awards are beginning to take shape. The AL Cy Young is shaping up to be quite a race with several young pitchers in contention for the award.

Young pitching has taken the majors by storm lately, so it's only fitting that some new names enter the Cy Young race for the first time, spearheaded by Clay Buchholz and Trevor Cahill, although the wizened, grizzled, 30-year-old CC Sabathia may have something to say about who grabs the hardware.

One of the more difficult things to do in properly evaluating the winner of a Cy Young race is to figure out which metrics to look at. ERA has become a rather maligned statistic lately, although when evaluated in its sole function, is a great barometer of what a pitcher did with a specific team in a specific park in a specific year. And given awards tend to be all about what actual production was, one could argue that ERA is a primary indication of a player's performance.

However, there's also Fielding-Independent Pitching (FIP) which strips out most variables, giving you a better indication of a pitcher's true talent, focusing mainly on strikeouts and walks. xFIP normalizes homer rate, which gives you an idea of a pitcher's true talent with all variables stripped out, including home and road ballparks. What FIP and xFIP primarily do is give one an idea of what is most likely to happen from here on out in a pitcher's production.

So you have two metrics: one evaluating what actually happened, and one evaluating a pitcher's actual production. Given awards aren't about long-term success and are specifically geared to one-year wonders, whether aberrations or not, ERA shouldn't be eliminated from the evaluation process. Discounted, sure, but not eliminated.

One thing that can be eliminated, however, is wins and losses. Those have absolutely no bearing on a pitcher's effectiveness, and the voting process is starting to realize the foolhardiness of voting for wins as 2009 Cy Young victor Zack Greinke can attest to with a 16-8 record.

Without further ado, your top AL Cy Young candidates in alphabetical order:

Clay Buchholz Clay Buchholz
Boston Red Sox
15-5, 146 2/3 IP, 101 K, 55 BB, 2.21 ERA, 4.19 xFIP

Buchholz has been a revelation for the Red Sox this season, taking the next step toward being a front-of-the-line rotation member. After struggling with inconsistency -- both mechanical and mental -- over the last few seasons, Buchholz has finally found himself comfortable on the mound and that's translated to results. He has done very well in inducing soft contact that defenders can gobble up, but it's not entirely positive yet whether that's a repeatable skill or simple luck. It's probably a combination of both. Buchholz has the easiest road to victory, with a commanding ERA and a wins ledger that should crack 18 provided the 26-year-old doesn't fall apart down the stretch.

Trevor Cahill Trevor Cahill
Oakland Athletics
14-5, 155 2/3 IP, 88 K, 46 BB, 2.43 ERA, 4.12 xFIP

Unlike Buchholz, Cahill doesn't have the gaudy strikeout numbers which will harm him in a campaign otherwise remarkably similar to Buchholz. He has a ton of BABIP-fueled luck, largely because of the spacious park he calls home and the strong fielding corps behind him. Cahill figures to eventually morph into one of the better starters in the league, but at least for 2010, his success is based on a house of cards as he has no reliable strikeout pitch and doesn't force batters to chase pitches out of the zone.

Felix Hernandez Felix Hernandez
Seattle Mariners
10-10, 204 1/3 IP, 192 K, 56 BB, 2.47 ERA, 3.26 xFIP

Now we're getting into people with truly dominating statistics. Hernandez has already broken the 200-inning barrier with over a full month to go. That's all sorts of crazy, as is his K-rate a certainty to break 200. He's combining that with strong command, but his win-loss record sets him back, especially in an environment where a fair share of voters still value wins and losses. Such are the perils for playing for one of the worst teams in the majors, and a historically-bad offense.

Cliff Lee Cliff Lee
Texas Rangers
10-8, 179 2/3 IP, 156 K, 12 BB, 3.26 ERA, 3.26 xFIP

The 2008 Cy Young champion still has a strong chance at taking home the hardware, but his time so far in Texas hasn't been Cy-worthy. He has a 4.50 ERA in Texas, although his xFIP is still in the low 3.00's. A big reason why is the increased clip in home runs allowed which may be due to his new home park. His win-loss record leaves a lot to be desired as well, largely due to his turn in Seattle. Let's take a moment, however, to appreciate how good Lee has been: a low xFIP exactly the same as his ERA not only shows just how good he's been, but that he's pitched well without much luck, unlike Buchholz and Cahill. In addition, the 12 walks allowed is not a typo. Lee is this author's top choice for the Cy.

David Price David Price
Tampa Bay Rays
15-6, 164 2/3 IP, 154 K, 65 BB, 3.01 ERA, 3.98 xFIP

Price doesn't have much over Buchholz and Cahill, although he's been decidedly less lucky which is reflected in ERA. The difference in xFIP is marginal enough that makes one wonder if there's any reason he should stand over Buchholz and Cahill. Remember, not only are we looking for true talent, but we're also looking at what a pitcher actually did, luck and randomness included. Lee and Hernandez have the most compelling cases so far, win-loss record be damned, but Buchholz and Cahill hold the edge otherwise.

CC Sabathia CC Sabathia

New York Yankees
18-5, 194 2/3 IP, 160 K, 62 BB, 3.14 ERA, 3.83 xFIP

Sabathia has changed his game lately, inducing more groundballs while keeping the rest of his game constant. As a result, batters are making less hard contact off of Sabathia, and with a powerful Yankees team behind him, dominates the wins ledger with 18. His ERA is low enough and overall durability high enough that he presents a legitimate challenge for the top spot with strong cases in every category. No other pitcher on the list has the blend of wins, innings, BB/K, ERA and xFIP than Sabathia, which may be all that's needed to claim the award. The best chance to keep the trophy away from a member of the Yankees may rest in their division rival's Buchholz. If that ERA stays rock-bottom through the end of the season, that ERA plus what figures to be around 18 wins should present a compelling enough case to win the award. Until then, however, Sabathia has to be considered the favorite.

Just missed the cut: Jon Lester, Francisco Liriano, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson

 -- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: August 27, 2010 11:23 am
Edited on: August 27, 2010 12:29 pm

Rays reportedly sign Hawpe

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that the Rays will sign free agent outfielder Brad Hawpe, who was recently released by the Rockies.

Hawpe cleared waivers on Thursday, and the Rangers and Padres were other teams rumored to have interest. Hawpe, 31, posted a .255/.343/.432 line in 259 at-bats for the Rockies and is a .280 career hitter.

It's a low-risk move for the Rays, who are hoping Hawpe thrives in a new environment and gives them an offensive boost as they battle the Yankees for supremacy in the American League East.

UPDATE: The St. Petersburg Times reports that Hawpe will sign a minor-league deal. The Rays will have to call him up by Thursday, however, for him to be eligible for the postseason roster.

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 26, 2010 6:22 pm

Rangers interested in Manny, not Hawpe

The White Sox apparently aren't the only team with interest in Manny Ramirez. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports the Rangers are "mulling the possibility of talking to the Dodgers" about Ramirez.

A club official, though, does tell Sullivan it's "unlikely" the Rangers will get Ramirez and predicts Ramirez will end the season with the Dodgers.

The White Sox have made little secret of their interest in Ramirez and are ahead of the Rangers on the waiver wire. Ramirez was reportedly placed on waivers on Wednesday, teams would then have until Friday to put in a claim on Ramirez. The White Sox and Dodgers have reportedly already started talks about a trade of Ramirez.

National League clubs will have first priority on Ramirez, but his outfield play makes that unlikely.

Ramirez has a no-trade clause and could kill any trade.

Sullivan also notes the Rangers are not interested in free agent Brad Hawpe. Hawpe cleared waivers on Thursday and became a free agent. The Padres are reportedly interested in Hawpe. He could also draw interest from the Red Sox or Rays.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: August 26, 2010 2:35 pm

Miami wants to reopen stadium deal

Incensed by leaked documents showing that the Marlins were making a profit at the same time they were crying poverty to get public money for a new ballpark, the mayor of Miami is looking into whether the city can revisit an agreement to build a $100 million parking garage for the team.

According to the Miami Herald, mayor Tomas Regalado wants the city -- the parking garage is its primary contribution to the $642 million project -- to reap 100 percent of advertising revenue from signs in the garage. The current deal calls for the team and city to split the money.

"If the answer is in the negative, what recourse do we have to expose those who misinformed the commission and public during a public hearing?'' Regalado asked City Attorney Julie Bru.

Thus far, the only repercussions from the release of private financial reports for six teams -- the Marlins, Rays, Rangers, Mariners, Angels and Pirates -- have been in public relations. If the Marlins, who as a private business had no legal obligation to open their books, suffer a financial loss as a result, you have to think they'd have a compelling basis for a lawsuit against whoever was responsible for leaking the documents. Apparently Major League Baseball is looking at an unnamed insurance carrier as the possible source of the leak.

-- David Andriesen

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

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