Tag:Blue JAys
Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:11 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 2:04 am

Verlander, Kershaw win pitching triple crowns

By C. Trent Rosecrans

So, now that we've got that pesky playoff thing all figured out, we can get to the important stuff, like batting titles and the such, right?

OK, while eight teams still have something to play for, 22 other teams are done, and so are the regular-season individual titles. So what were the best marks in the biggest individual categories? Here you go:

American League
Batting average: .344 -- Miguel Cabrera
Home runs: 43 -- Jose Bautista
RBIs: 119 -- Curtis Granderson
Stolen bases: 49 -- Coco Crisp, Brett Gardner
Wins: 24 -- Justin Verlander
ERA: 2.40 -- Justin Verlander
Strikeouts: 250 -- Justin Verlander
Saves: 49 -- Jose Valverde

National League
Batting average: .337 -- Jose Reyes
Home runs: 39 -- Matt Kemp
RBIs: 126 -- Matt Kemp
Stolen bases: 61 -- Michael Bourn
Wins: 21 -- Clayton Kershaw, Ian Kennedy
ERA: 2.28 -- Clayton Kershaw
Strikeouts: 248 -- Clayton Kershaw
Saves: 46 -- John Axford, Craig Kimbrel

If you want to know who led in other stats, you can check out our stats page.

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

Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:15 am

Pepper: From afterthought to MVP candidate

Michael Young

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I'm not sure I'd vote for Michael Young for the American League MVP, but I sure would have to consider the Rangers veteran if I had a ballot in the AL -- and that's a far cry from where Young started the season.

Remember going into spring training? Young had no home on the diamond and reportedly wanted a trade from the only team he's played for as a big leaguer. At 34, he seemed to be anything but what his surname suggested and of declining skills, not to mention he was a man without a position. The team signed Adrian Beltre to take over at third base, displacing him once again. Young had been moved off shortstop to make room for Elvis Andrus after previously being moved from second base. And now the team had another third baseman and it seemed there was nowhere for Young.

Instead, Young has wound up playing everywhere. In addition to 68 starts as the team's DH, he's made 39 starts at third base, 36 at first base and 13 at second. He may be the team's MVP -- with V standing for both valuable and versatile. He played in all but two games this season, and produced. He's hitting .338/.380/.477 -- all improvements over last season -- along with 11 home runs (down from a year ago), 104 RBI and a MLB-best 209 hits.

"People want to talk MVP? It's ridiculous if they don't consider Michael Young," Rangers manager Ron Washington told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I'd like someone to tell me a utility player who does what he does… When it all started, nobody thought he'd be able to get playing time."

The AL MVP vote could be one of the toughest in recent years, but Washington's right, Young should seriously be considered.

Rockies to be aggressive in offseason: The Rockies were many people's pick to win the National League West, or at least the wild card. Instead, the team has limped to a 71-87 record so far, 21 games behind the surprising Diamondbacks. Colorado has money to spend and will look for several upgrades in order to be competitive in 2012. [Denver Post]

Sayonara Kuroda? Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda said there's a 50-50 chance he returns to Japan next year. Kuroda is 13-16 with a 3.17 ERA this season. [MLB.com]

Rasmus blames Cardinals: Colby Rasmus hasn't played well since going to Toronto, and for that, he's blaming the Cardinals. The 25-year-old center fielder has as much talent as anyone, but his head seems to continue to get in his way. Maybe Tony La Russa was right… [National Post]

Pinch-runner paying dividends: Tyler Greene isn't playing much shortstop for the Cardinals, but he's still making his mark on the bases. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Stadium holding back A's: The A's still hope to get a new stadium in San Jose, but if they do they'll likely hold back on spending -- because the stadium wouldn't be ready for at least three years, and the team would want to build toward opening strong in the new stadium. At least, that's what the agents for Josh Willingham hear. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Extending DatDude: Reds general manager Walt Jocketty will meet with the agents for second baseman Brandon Phillips in New York this week to talk about an extension. Jocketty has already said the team would pick up Phillips' $12 million option for 2012. [MLB.com]

Sanchez hopeful: Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez said he expects to be ready for opening day in 2012. Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery in August. [San Jose Mercury News]

Homecoming: You think it's bad when you see minivans with a kid's name and number on the back? I know I'd be embarrassed if if my mom had "Trent" and "CBSSports.com" on the back of her car. Or even if she wore a t-shirt with that around town. Well, imagine how embarrassed Reds rookie Devin Mesoraco felt when his mother distributed more than 700 t-shirts with his image and name on it for Saturday's game in Pittsburgh. [OMGReds.com]

Maybin wants to stay in San Diego: Cameron Maybin has apparently found a home in San Diego. When asked if he was open to signing a long-term deal with the Padres, Maybin said "100 percent." You can also find out where he buys his shoes. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

If you don't hit does it matter where you hit? The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano isn't happy about batting seventh most of the season fo rthe Cubs. Shouldn't he be more upset with him putting up the type of production that makes him a seven-hitter? [ESPNChicago.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:47 pm

Playoff race: Red Sox split DH, up 1/2 game

By Evan Brunell

During the first inning of the night game, we reached the point with the Red Sox's collapse where it was comical. Boston unfailingly kept finding new  -- and strangely familiar -- ways to choke away games. While the first game did go the Yankees way as expected, the second game saw a Boston victory. John Lackey surprisingly held on for six innings after gifting three in the first and the team rode a 14th-inning Jacoby Ellsbury homer to a 7-4 victory. That keeps Boston a game ahead of the Rays.

One would think that the Red Sox would still be in prime position to win the wild card thanks to facing the Orioles next, while the Rays draw the Yankees as the regular season comes to a close. But Boston dropped three of four to Baltimore prior to the Yankees series, so nothing can be assured. (The Rays, to be fair to Boston, also dropped three of four to the Yanks last weekend as well.)

The Rays did their duty Sunday, defeating the Blue Jays 5-2. Upton hit his 23rd homer of the year and is heating up at the right time -- he has a .333/.423/.583 line in September.

Boston Red Sox
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 50 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
88-71, 1 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 v. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 50 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:10 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 10:12 pm

Playoff race: Rays could catch Boston on Sunday

Carl Crawford

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rays could catch the Red Sox as soon as Sunday following Saturday's 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays and the Red Sox's 9-1 loss to the Yankees. Tampa Bay trails Boston by just 1.5 games after Saturday's games.

Wade Davis takes the hill for Tampa Bay against Brett Cecil, while the Red Sox send Tim Wakefield and John Lackey to the mound for their doubleheader in New York against A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova. A Rays win and a Yankees sweep would tie the teams in the wild card standings with just three games remaining.

If you're a Red Sox fan, it looks like now's the time to get nervous (if you weren't already).

Here's what's left for both teams:

Boston Red Sox
Remaining schedule: 2 @ NYY, 3 @BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 88.4 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
87-71, 1.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 v. TOR, 3 v. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 10 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 8:41 pm

How do we really define 'value?'

By Matt Snyder

As the end of the 2011 baseball season is now less than a week away, it's becoming more and more clear that the MVP debates are going to include a healthy amount of "value" discussion -- much more than in previous seasons. Throw out the stats because how you define who should be allowed to be MVP tells you who to vote for this season. The best position player in each respective league is playing for a team that hasn't been in contention for the playoffs for a majority of the season. If you believe pitchers are eligible to win the award, well, you have your AL vote, too. If you believe the MVP has to be a position player from a team in contention, again, the field is rather limited (well, I guess you'd have to pick between two teammates in the NL).

So with so many others giving us their definition of value, I figured I'd outline mine.

If I had an MVP vote in the American League, I'd vote for Jose Bautista. His Blue Jays entered Friday night 16 games behind the Yankees in the AL East and nine behind the Red Sox in the wild card. At 79-77, they're most certainly not a bad team, but they've been out of contention for the entire second half.

If I had an MVP vote in the National League, I'd vote for Matt Kemp. His Dodgers are 11 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West. They're 9 1/2 games behind the Braves in the wild card. At 78-77, they're most certainly not a bad team, but they've been out of contention for the entire second half.

Now, this is where the dissenters start calling me every name in the book -- because heaven forbid we ever actually respectfully disagree with someone's opinion. The argument will include fallacies like the Blue Jays and Dodgers suck (no, they really don't) and that it's easier to play in meaningless games (no, it's really not). We'll also hear about how "if you removed (Bautista or Kemp) from the (Blue Jays or Dodgers), they'd still not be a playoff team. Just like they aren't a playoff team now."

But you know what I'm going to counter with? Bautista and Kemp are actually more valuable than players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Braun because the supporting cast is bad. For example, the Red Sox were 89-73 last season and Ellsbury only played in 18 games. This season, they'll probably be a small handful of games better, but they also added Adrian Gonzalez. There are far more moving parts because every season is full of complexities, but this a simple way of saying the lineup is loaded and that losing only one guy doesn't handcuff that team. But what if the Blue Jays didn't have Jose Bautista? Would they be even close to .500? Nope. What about the Dodgers without Kemp? They'd be left trying to win every fifth day (when Clayton Kershaw pitches) and otherwise getting their teeth kicked in.

If you're really going to argue that Kemp and Bautista are more "most outstanding player" types than MVP types, you're going to have to tell everyone why a player absolutely carrying an otherwise mediocre offense isn't valuable. If you're going to argue it's easier to put up the kind of numbers these guys have because they aren't in playoff contention, you better argue that if you put Bautista in right field for the Yankees or Kemp in center for the Brewers, they'd somehow be worse players because now they're having to face pressure (nevermind the better protection in the lineup and extra RBI opportunities they'd have).

Also, the argument that it's easier to play in games for a team not in the race is farcical. You know what this argument is? An invented one by fans of teams that are headed to the playoffs. Sorry, guys, it is much easier to show up to the ballpark in a good mindset and play a game when the game actually matters. In a mental game like baseball, that matters. Playing meaningless games makes it more difficult to stay as focused as necessary for each at-bat. Think about the three Monday-Wednesday games next week for players on the Twins, for example. They've got to be ready to close the book on 2011, but still will be professionals and play games.

It's going to be interesting to see how the MVP voting falls in each league, as it's more about defining criteria than picking a player. Tigers' ace Justin Verlander deserves consideration, as does Ellsbury, alongside Bautista in the AL. Like I said, the only debate is what valuable means to you. Kemp has some company, as the Brewers' Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols of the Cardinals and the Reds' Joey Votto could all figure into the mix. Still, it feels like the first-place vote is defined by definition of value. Kemp gets the vote if you don't care about the team being in contention, and if you do, it probably is between Braun and Fielder.

The beauty of this vote is we don't have to agree (hey, I'll be happy if Braun wins, because that's who I predicted would win back in March). It's a subjective award and the criteria of "value" is pretty vague. I respect those who think the MVP has to come from a team in contention, but I just wanted to lay out something I've been thinking about ... that great players surrounded by bad supporting casts are actually more valuable. Just be open-minded and think about it.

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Posted on: September 23, 2011 4:52 pm

On Deck: Braves face Strasburg


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Stephen StrasburgBraves' tall task: Stephen Strasburg gets to pitch in a pennant race -- well, sort of. The Braves are trying to hold on to their two-game lead in the National League wild card race, but St. Louis' loss on Thursday gave Atlanta a little breathing room. With six games remaining, the Braves have a 75 percent shot of hanging on to the wild card, according to Coolstandings.com. It can't be too good to see Strasburg on the hill in such an important game. Strasburg hasn't recorded a victory since returning from Tommy John surgery, but that's through no fault of his own. In three starts, the right-hander has allowed two runs on nine hits in 14 innings, while striking out 11 batters and walking none. Atlanta beat Strasburg last season, getting to him for six hits and four runs (three earned) in 6 1/3 innings. At that point, it was the most any team had scored against Strasburg. Tim Hudson, 15-10 with a 3.19 ERA, starts for Atlanta. Braves at Nationals, 7:05 p.m ET

Back home: Not only does it rhyme, but the Jays-Rays matchup has quite a bit on the line. For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Rays are back home. Tampa went 5-6 on their 11-game road trip to Baltimore, Boston and New York. Tampa Bay is slightly better at home (42-33, .560 winning percentage) than on the road (44-37, .543 winning percentage) and have won seven of their last eight games at Tropicana Field. David Price takes the mound for Tampa Bay after leaving his last start when he was hit in the chest by a ball. Toronto right-hander Brandon Morrow is coming off an eight-inning scoreless performance against the Yankees, getting his first win since Aug. 17. Blue Jays at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET

Last chance: With a win on Friday, the Diamondbacks will clinch the National League West, but the game may be more important to the Giants. San Francisco probably needs to not only win the rest of its six remaining games, but also get some help along the way for a shot at the National League wild card. A loss tonight and the Giants not only are realistically out of the wild card race, but they're also mathematically out of the NL West race. Matt Cain is 4-1 with a 3.97 ERA in five starts against Arizona this season and 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA at Chase Field. Arizona left-hander Joe Saunders was one out away from a shutout in his last start, Sunday in San Diego, and has won his last three starts. His last loss was to the Giants, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits in 5 1/3 innings on Sept. 2. Giants at Diamondbacks, 9:05 p.m. ET

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 11:10 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 11:29 pm

Playoff race: Angels lose in extras; Rays victors


By Evan Brunell

Matt Moore put forth a dazzling performance and the Rays got off to a hot start by racking up a 13-0 lead. While the bullpen would go on to give up eight runs, it was still game over from early on. The performance by Moore should put him in great position next season to open the year in the rotation, and the Rays will certainly shuffle things around to get the talented lefty in the rotation. With the victory, Tampa edged closer to an idling Boston, making up half a game. The Rays are now two games behind with six games to play.

The Red Sox's day off was much needed after the team dropped three of four to the Orioles, staggering to a 5-16 record in September. Boston draws the Yankees next. New York has already clinched the AL East and will certainly not be treating the games against Boston as must-wins, but they'll still bring their team to bear and try to stun the Red Sox into missing the playoffs. Interestingly enough, the off day by Boston actually improved the Red Sox's chances of winning, with even the Rays victory dropping their likelihood of the wild card 0.6 percent. That's because the amount of games left matter.

Can't forget about the Angels either, who had a 3-1 lead against Toronto until the seventh, when the Jays pushed across two runs. In the 12th, Edwin Encarnacion delivered a walkoff hope run to drop L.A. three games behind Boston. With three games coming up against Oakland before finishing the year with Texas, the Angels need to show up in these next few games to keep their hopes alive.

Boston Red Sox
Remaining schedule: 3 @ NYY, 3 @ BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 85.5 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
86-70, 2 GB
Remaining schedule: 3  v. TOR, 3 v. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 7.4 percent

Los Angeles Angels
85-71, 3 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 v. OAK, 3 v. TEX
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 6.2 percent

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

Posted on: September 22, 2011 5:14 pm

On Deck: Braves, Red Sox off, but chase continues


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Matt MooreBig start for rookie: Rays rookie Matt Moore made a good second impression on Monday when he threw three innings in the Rays' win in Boston, and now he has quite the stage for his first big-league start -- at Yankee Stadium with the Rays hoping to gain a half-game on idle Boston. The Rays are 2.5 games behind the Red Sox and now they have company, too, as the Angels are also suddenly tied with the Rays behind the Red Sox. Moore was the top pitching prospect in baseball and went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A, striking out 208 batters in 144 2/3 innings. Moore actually pitched better for Triple-A Durham than he did Double-A Montgomery. He went 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in nine starts, striking out 79 of the 204 batters he faced, while walking 18. He faces Bartolo Colon, who made his MLB debut when Moore was 6. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

Back in it: The Angels appeared to have blown their playoff chance after losing two of three in Baltimore, but have bounced back to win their last two games in Toronto, while Tampa Bay and Boston have tread water. Thursday starter Ervin Santana is 11-12 with a 3.40 ERA, but has lost each of his last three starts, allowing five earned runs in each of his last two starts. Since his complete game victory at Rogers Centre on Aug. 12, the right-hander is 2-4 with a 4.47 ERA in seven starts, with the Angels going 3-4 in those games. Rookie right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who has thrown six or more innings in his last six starts and hasn't lost since Aug. 26. Los Angeles returns home after the game tonight to face the A's and the Rangers to finsih the season. Angels at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET

Surging Giants: The defending champs have won five of their last seven games, getting to within 3.5 games of the National League wild card, trailing the Braves and the Cardinals. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner starts for San Francisco and has won each of his last five starts, putting up a 1.04 ERA with batters hitting just .189/.256/.262 against him over that stretch. That includes a five-inning, three-hit performance against the Dodgers on Sept. 11. Since August, Dodger starter Hiroki Kuroda's record has improved, with him winning six of his nine starts. Giants at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

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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