Posted on: November 22, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 3:40 pm
As I wrote on the final Sunday of the regular season, the National League MVP race was so close that I wouldn't decide until the season was over.
When it was, I picked Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp.
So did the majority of the voters, which is why Braun is this year's NL MVP.
Kemp had an outstanding season. So did Braun.
Braun had a huge impact on the pennant race. Kemp, basically through no fault of his own, did not.
The MVP is an individual award, but baseball is a team game. Everything you do is affected by your teammates.
And in my mind, it's hard (but not impossible) to be the MVP when your teammates aren't good enough to help you contend for a championship.
Would my vote have been different had Kemp won the Triple Crown, as he had a chance to do in the final weeks of the season?
It's possible it would have been. You'll never know, because I'll never know. I never had to make that decision.
I had to decide based on what did happen, and what happened was that Braun's great season helped his team to a championship, while Kemp's great season kept his team from losing more games than it won.
3. Prince Fielder. For the first part of the season, he was even better than Braun. For the whole year, Braun got the edge.
4. Albert Pujols. He started slow (for him), and then he was hurt. But he came back strong, and so did his team.
5. Lance Berkman. Without him, the Cardinals would have been buried early.
6. Roy Halladay. The Phillies were the dominant team in the regular season, and their starting pitching was the reason. The problem was that it was hard to separate out one starter.
7. Justin Upton. Great year, great story, but his home-road split (1.033 OPS at home, .767 on road) held him down.
8. Cliff Lee. Based on June (5-0, 0.21) and August (5-0, 0.45), he was the MVP. For the full season, he just makes the ballot.
9. Joey Votto. Didn't repeat his 2010 season, so he won't repeat as MVP.
10. Carlos Ruiz. His numbers are nowhere near MVP-worthy. I gave him a 10th-place vote because of the impact he has on the Phillies pitching, which was so good that if I could have voted for the rotation as a whole, they would have been the MVP.
Posted on: May 13, 2011 1:10 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 1:32 pm
Three teams will get significant players back from the disabled list on Friday.
The Phillies are activating catcher Carlos Ruiz, who missed the last 12 games with a lower back strain. The Twins are activating Delmon Young, who missed the last 19 gaems with an oblique strain. And the Marlins are activating Logan Morrison, who was out 21 games with a sprained arch in his left foot.
The Phillies have rolled on in Ruiz's absence, going 8-4 without him. But if anything, Ruiz has raised his profile among scouts with his play this year. Just this week, a group of scouts were talking about how he now ranks very near the top of any list of major-league catchers.
Ruiz takes Brian Schneider's roster spot. Schneider went on the DL with a left hamstring strain.
Ruiz played in a rehabilitation game Thursday night for Class A Clearwater, as did Chase Utley and Roy Oswalt. The Phillies have been quiet on a projected date for Utley's return, but it's worth remembering that he tends to keep these rehab assignments as brief as possible. As for Oswalt, the Phils have been hoping he'll be able to start on Tuesday in St. Louis, although his lack of velocity Thursday night must be a concern.
The Twins haven't done nearly as well without Young, going 6-13 while he has recovered from a strained oblique. While Joe Mauer's health and Justin Morneau's struggles justifiably get more attention, Young's absence has been felt. Young drove in 112 runs last year, although he wasn't off to a great start (.228, 6 RBI in 16 games) before he got hurt.
The Twins optioned Rene Tosoni back to Triple-A Rochester to make room for Young.
Morrison was a big part of the Marlins' early-season success, hitting .327 with 11 RBI in 15 games. The Marlins went 12-9 in his absence.
Posted on: May 13, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: May 13, 2011 11:47 am
The Phillies have activated catcher Carlos Ruiz from the disabled list.
Next up, Roy Oswalt and Chase Utley.
Ruiz, Oswalt and Utley all played for Class A Clearwater on Thursday night, on minor-league rehabilitation assignments. Ruiz had missed just the last 12 games with a lower back strain, so it's no surprise that he's back quickly. The Phillies needed a catcher, anyway, because backup Brian Schneider just went on the DL with a left hamstring strain.
The Phillies have been careful not to put a timetable on Utley's return, but it's worth remembering that his rehab assignments have tended to be brief. This one figures to be a little longer, because Utley missed all of spring training and hasn't played yet this year, but he hit a home run in the Class A game Thursday.
"So far, so good," Utley told reporters, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.
Oswalt's status is also uncertain, because he struggled to find his velocity in five innings Thursday. The Phils had been hoping that Oswalt could return to the rotation Tuesday in St. Louis.
Posted on: January 26, 2010 3:55 pm
The Phillies will try for a third straight World Series in 2010 with basically the same team that got there in 2008 and 2009.
And then they'll try again with the same team in 2011, and maybe 2012.
If the first part of the Phillies' winter was about incremental improvements -- first Placido Polanco in place of Pedro Feliz at third base, then Roy Halladay in place of Cliff Lee atop the rotation -- the next part was about insuring they can keep this group together as long as possible.
Now, with Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz all signed to three-year deals, no team in baseball has as many key players locked up as the Phillies do. Of their significant players, everyone but right fielder Jayson Werth is under control for at least the next two years.
That includes seven of the eight players in the everyday lineup, and also the top four starting pitchers (Halladay, Cole Hamels, Blanton and J.A. Happ), and also the two key pitchers in the bullpen (Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson).
Ever since the Phillies traded for Halladay and traded away Lee in a related (but not technically three-way) deal, plenty of people have asked why they didn't keep Lee. Given the multi-year strategy, it's easier to understand now why they didn't.
Lee wasn't prepared to sign a long-term deal. Halladay was, and so, eventually, was Blanton.
Rather than going for it all in an all-out rush in 2010, the Phillies were trying to extend their window of opportunity into 2011, 2012 and maybe even beyond.
They like the team they have now. They like it enough that they want to keep it around -- and they will.
Posted on: October 26, 2008 7:30 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2008 7:42 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- Yes, those are ear flaps on the caps that some of the Rays are wearing for the games in Philadelphia.
If you watched Game 3 Saturday, you no doubt saw that manager Joe Maddon was wearing one of the specially-made caps with flaps, although he never had reason to pull the flaps down over his ears. It didn't get that cold Saturday night and it's not that cold yet tonight.
But temperatures could be in the mid-40s by the start of Game 5 on Monday. The Rays are prepared.
"We call it the Elmer Fudd," Rays home clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland said. "New Era came out with them last year, and we got them in spring training. This is the first time we've used them. I don't' know what the actual name for them is, but we call them the Elmer Fudd.
"I think the players are hoping it'll get cold enough so they can wear them."
A couple of other World Series items of interest:
-- While some people questioned Evan Longoria's decision to try to make a play on Carlos Ruiz's game-winning hit in Game 3, the Rays knew that the ball was unlikely to roll foul. In their World Series scouting report, the Rays read that the way the baselines at Citizens Bank Park play, balls very rarely roll foul.
-- White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome flew to Philadelphia to visit his former teammates and former manager before Game 4. Thome played for the Phillies from 2003-05, and also played for Phils manager Charlie Manuel in Cleveland.
"When I left Cleveland to come here, this is why I came here, to get to the World Series," Thome said. "And now it's almost like I'm living it. I wish we were here playing against them, but it didn't work out that way."
Posted on: October 24, 2008 2:53 am
Edited on: October 24, 2008 9:18 am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After James Shields lost to the Red Sox in Game 6 of the ALCS, Daisuke Matsuzaka told Japanese writers that he thought the pitching rubber had been shifted to Shields' benefit.
Not true, it seems, but funny, because in Shields' World Series win over the Phillies on Thursday, he kind of did a Dice-K.
Matsuzaka, you might remember, held opponents to a .201 batting average with runners in scoring position. His Red Sox teammates said he was a magician.
Sure enough, in Game 2 of the World Series, Shields held the Phillies to one infield single in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
"I was just thinking about Dice-K, and what he said, because I think I took a page out of his book," Shields said. "Dice-K does a great job with runners in scoring position, and that's what I was able to do."
Ruiz became the first catcher to steal a base in a World Series game since Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski did it three years ago. No Phillies catcher had ever stolen a base in a World Series.
Ruiz had one regular-season steal.