Tag:Felix Hernandez
Posted on: June 16, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 9:44 pm

Something to remember: C.J. Wilson loves to hit

This week at Yankee Stadium, C.J. Wilson hit more home runs than he allowed.

Might be worth remembering come November.

First, because Wilson might be the top free-agent pitcher available when this season ends (and he certainly didn't hurt his status by holding the Yankees to two runs in eight innings). Second, because the Rangers' left-hander really seemed to enjoy that home run he hit -- even if it was in batting practice.

This guy loves to hit.

"I saw Rick Ankiel before '01 [when Ankiel was a pitcher], and I thought I brought a lot of the same stuff to the table," Wilson said. "I never wanted to pitch until I got drafted."

Does that mean Wilson will want to sign with a National League team, so he could at least hit a few times a game?

You're going to have to draw your own conclusions on that one, because he wouldn't go there.

"I'm not going to answer that question," Wilson said.

He would answer a question about pitching under National League rules, which he won't get to do this weekend against the Braves -- his next start is Tuesday at home against the Astros -- but will get to do on June 28 in Houston.

"It's fun, and it's easier pitching in the National League," Wilson said. "You've got the pitcher hitting, and you've got the eighth-place hitter. We've put lineups out there with Mitch Moreland hitting eighth. C'mon, Mitch Moreland can hit a ball 500 feet.

"This is the way the game started, with pitchers hitting. It's more fun. If I got 50-60 at-bats during a season, that'd be great."

Instead, Wilson has five at-bats in his career, plus one against the Giants in the World Series. He's still looking for his first hit.

But he did hit that home run -- a second-deck home run -- in batting practice on Tuesday.

"It's OK, but it's 318 down the line," Wilson said. "It's easy to hit a home run here -- really easy, extremely easy."

But the Yankees, who lead the majors with 103 home runs (and have hit 62 in 40 home games), didn't reach the seats against Wilson. He became just the third opposing pitcher in the new Yankee Stadium history (since 2009) to go eight innings without allowing a home run.

Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee each did it twice.

One more thing to remember come November: Wilson isn't a big fan of the Yankee Stadium mound.

"It's terrible," he said earlier this week. "It's like clay and silt."

Oh, and one last thing to remember: CC Sabathia loves hitting, too. He loved the National League. And when it was the American League Yankees who made by far the biggest offer when Sabathia was a free agent in the winter of 2008-09, Sabathia went to the league where he couldn't hit regularly.

Posted on: May 27, 2011 10:05 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 11:09 am

3 to Watch: The King defends his crown edition

It's been a quiet start to the season for Felix Hernandez. Even the talk that he'll be traded seems to have died down, either because of the Mariners' continued strong denials, his own declarations of how happy he is in Seattle or the team's decent start to the season.

Meanwhile, as of now Hernandez isn't even in the top 10 in the American League ERA race. He leads the league in strikeouts and he's third in innings pitched, but if the Cy Young vote were held today, he'd barely receive a vote.

And none of that means he won't repeat his title.

Through 11 starts, Hernandez actually has better numbers than he did at this point last year. He's 5-4 with a 3.01 ERA, as compared to 2-4 with a 3.50 ERA through his first 11 starts of 2010.

Last year, the Mariners were held to one run or none in three of his first four losses. This year, they've been held to no runs, one run and two runs in three of his first four losses.

And that means this Saturday's start against the Yankees is King Felix's biggest of the year so far.

The strongest voices against Hernandez in last year's Cy debate weren't the ones complaining about his so-so 13-12 record. Rather, they were the ones complaining that he didn't pitch in important games, and pitched in the weak-hitting American League West.

The strongest counter-argument was Hernandez's record against the Yankees. He won all three of his starts against New York, allowing just one run on 16 hits in 26 innings.

As Felix defenders have said all along, the bigger the stage, the better he pitched.

The stage isn't huge this weekend, but the Yankees are the highest-scoring team in the American League. The Mariners are playing so well (and the division is so weak) that they're just 1 1/2 games out of first place.

It's a late-night Saturday start, but it's still the Yankees, and it still would be a great place for Hernandez to launch his reelection campaign.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Every day, it seems, I talk to another baseball person who mentions how unimpressive the Indians were in spring training, and how shocking it is that they still have the best record in baseball. But they do, and they even survived Grady Sizemore's latest trip to the disabled list, with Sizemore expected to return this weekend. Still, the doubters are going to doubt, and wonder if this is the week the Indians' collapse begins. Coming off two straight home losses to the Red Sox, they now get Tampa Bay's two best starters, beginning with David Price in Indians at Rays, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. Josh Tomlin, who is 6-1 and has held opponents to a .182 batting average, starts for the Indians.

2. Even with Buster Posey, the Giants have scored the fewest runs in the National League. Even with Buster Posey, the Giants' margin of error has been slim, their first-place record built largely on a 14-5 record in one-run games. Now the Giants don't have Posey, and they go on the road to face a Brewers team that is finally healthy and has won six straight and 13 of 16. The good news for the Giants: They open the series with Tim Lincecum on the mound, in Giants at Brewers, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Miller Park. The bad news: The Brewers starter is Shawn Marcum, who has won his last six decisions.

3. Hernandez hasn't even been the most-talked-about starter in his own rotation, which he shares with 22-year-old Michael Pineda. Pineda looks great, and his start against the Yankees on Friday is worth watching, too. But Felix is still the King, and that puts Yankees at Mariners, Saturday night (10:10 ET) at Safeco Field on this list.

Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:47 pm

3 to watch: The fourth starter fallacy edition

We talk about rotations as if they match up one-against-one, ace against ace, No. 5 starter vs. No. 5 starter.

But they don't.

Not even in the first week of the season.

You know how many opening day starters are going to face off against another opening day starter in their second start? Only 16 out of 30.

Barely half of them.

The schedules don't always match up. Rainouts get in the way. Guys get hurt. Some teams are skipping the fifth starter this week, some aren't.

So instead of CC Sabathia against Carl Pavano, you've got Sabathia vs. Brian Duensing. Instead of Josh Johnson against Livan Hernandez, you've got Johnson vs. John Lannan. And so on.

And that's just for the second start of the year. By the end of the month, the chances that one team's ace will match up against another's will basically be the same as the chances he matches up against the No. 5 starter.

That's how the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo could have the fifth-best run support in baseball last year, even though he started on opening day. The Brewers didn't score all those runs off other teams' aces.

That's how CC Sabathia could have the second-best run support among Yankee starters last year.

So if you're one of those saying Cole Hamels is going to have a great year because he's the Phillies' fourth starter, I'm going to disagree. I don't doubt Hamels will have a great year, but it won't be because he's going to have it easier than if he had started one of the first three games of the season.

Hamels will face Mets fourth starter Chris Young on Tuesday night, in the season debut for both pitchers. And maybe that's why I didn't include that game on this week's 3 to watch:

1. Josh Beckett was an opening day starter last year, and the year before that (and for three years with the Marlins, too). So is he a No. 4 starter, now that he's starting the fourth game of the season, in Red Sox at Indians, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field ? Beckett had a poor 2010 season and a poor 2011 spring training, but now the Red Sox hope he can deliver them their first win, after a season-opening sweep in Texas. Teams do rebound after beginning a season 0-3. Six 0-3 teams in just the last 20 years have gone on to win a division title, most notably the 1998 Yankees who began 0-3, then won 114 of their next 159 games. Even 0-4 teams aren't dead. The 1999 Diamondbacks began 0-4 and went on to 100 wins. The 1995 Reds won their division despite starting 0-6, but they did it with just 85 wins. You can bet it will take more than 85 to win the American League East this year.

2. In three games started by Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz (combined career record: 206-129), the Rangers hit 11 home runs and scored 26 runs. Now the Rangers face a fascinating trio of Mariner pitchers, beginning with Erik Bedard (first start since July 25, 2009), continuing with Michael Pineda (major-league debut) in Mariners at Rangers, Tuesday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark , and continuing with Felix Hernandez (2010 Cy Young winner) in Wednesday's daytime series finale. The 21-year-old Pineda's debut has been much anticipated, as he is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. It's an interesting matchup, too, because Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando will be making his first big-league start.

3. Three games in, we know that the Orioles rotation has pitched 20 innings while allowing just one run on six hits. What we don't yet know is if that means that the Orioles young starters are ready to shine, or whether Rays (without Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, and with Evan Longoria getting hurt) are going to be a bad offensive team. We should know a little more by the time Chris Tillman makes his second start, in Tigers at Orioles, Thursday night (7:05 ET) at Camden Yards . Tillman is the guy who held the Rays hitless for six innings on Saturday, getting pulled from the game because he had thrown 101 pitches. No matter how this week goes, it's safe to say the Orioles pitching doesn't get talked about enough. Some scouts in Florida this spring said the O's Zach Britton is even better than the Yankees' Manuel Banuelos, but it was Banuelos who got all the attention.

Posted on: March 3, 2011 4:12 pm

On Felix, Randy and the Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Randy Johnson showed up in Mariners camp Thursday, a reminder that Felix Hernandez isn't yet the most accomplished pitcher to wear a Mariner uniform.

And a reminder that the Mariners don't always hold onto their most dominating pitchers.

But this isn't 1998, Hernandez isn't 34 years old, and for the moment I tend to believe the Mariners when they say they wouldn't even consider trading him this year.

"I can't prevent people from calling," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "But Felix is going to be a Mariner."

What does Felix think of that?

"Good, man," Hernandez said. "I love to be here."

The American League Cy Young winner seemed relaxed and happy Thursday, after throwing a two-inning simulated game in his first appearance of the spring. The Mariners hold Hernandez out of early Cactus League games, hoping that keeping him on the back fields will lower the intensity and perhaps reduce the wear and tear on his valuable right arm.

Even on the back field, Hernandez said, "The adrenaline's going, and you want to strike out everybody."

He struck out a few, as usual. At age 24 (he turns 25 in April), Hernandez already has 1,042 career strikeouts. He's 3,833 strikeouts behind Johnson, which Johnson didn't mind pointing out to him.

"He told me I need four more Cy Youngs and 4,000 strikeouts," Hernandez said. "I said, 'I'll be there, don't worry.'"

Will he get there in a Mariners' uniform? It's far too early to say that. The M's didn't trade Johnson until three years after he won his first Cy (his only one for Seattle), and not until he was 34 years old.


Two more thoughts on Felix and Randy:

-- I'd never want to judge anyone on a spring training game, let alone on a simulated game on a back field. But besides looking relaxed and sounding happy, Felix looks strong.

"I'm feeling so good," he said.

Hernandez said he wants to improve on his outstanding 2010 season.

"I think I can get better," he said. "Why not? This year, I'm trying to not let anyone score any runs in the first inning."

Hernandez allowed 15 runs in 34 first innings last year. While that may not sound like much, it's the most runs he allowed in any inning.

-- Watching Randy and Felix together, here's what I was wondering: If you take the two best pitchers in any franchise's history, where would the Mariners rank? In other words, Randy and Felix vs. any two pitchers any other franchise has had.

Posted on: September 19, 2010 9:23 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 6:03 pm

3 to watch: The Philly dilemma edition

Three games back of the Phillies in the National League East, the best thing the Braves have going for them is six remaining head-to-head meetings with the Phils, starting with a series that begins Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Two and a half games ahead of the Padres in the NL wild-card race, the biggest thing the Braves have going against them is that they play six of their final 12 games against the league's best team -- the Phillies.

"It is tougher," Chipper Jones said. "But I don't think we'd want it any other way."

One reason, of course, is that the Braves would like to think that they can still win the East. To win the East now, they need for the Phillies to lose. The best way to guarantee that the Phillies lose is to beat them yourself.

The other reason is that the Braves actually have a winning record against the Phillies over the last two years. They went 10-8 last season, and they're 7-5 so far this year.

"The one thing we have done really well the last couple of years is play well against the Phillies," Jones said. "And we're going to have to. They're the best team in the National League, and for some reason, we get sky-high to play them.

"To beat them, we need to play a near-perfect game."

But to make the playoffs, the Braves don't need to finish ahead of the Phillies. They just need to win the wild card -- although that might necessitate beating the Phillies a few times.

"Now we can't split hairs," club president John Schuerholz said. "Now it's about getting to the playoffs."

But still, Schuerholz said he doesn't mind it that half of the Braves' remaining schedule features the Phils (with other six games against the Nationals and Marlins).

"It might be the energy level we need," he said. "They will be energized games."

And they're leading off this week's edition of 3 to watch (which doesn't include the Rangers, Twins or Reds, even though all three could clinch their divisions in the next few days:

1. The Phillies were easily able to adjust their rotation, so that the Braves will face Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, maybe the closest thing we've seen to a true Big Three since the days of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. The Braves would have had a harder time making similar adjustments, and thus ace Tim Hudson won't pitch in this series. The Braves planned to start off with Jair Jurrjens, in Braves at Phillies, Monday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park , but Jurrjens hurt his right knee in a bullpen session last Friday in New York. So 24-year-old Brandon Beachy, who was in Florida with the Braves' instructional league team, will get the start and make his major-league debut. Rookie Mike Minor and young Tommy Hanson are the other two Braves starters this week. The Phillies' Big Three would be lined up again to pitch in the final three regular-season games in Atlanta, although if the Phils have wrapped up the division by then, there's a chance they wouldn't all pitch.

2. Elsewhere on this site , I made what I thought was a reasoned but traditional case for Felix Hernandez as the American League's Cy Young leader. Hernandez could help his own case considerably with a big performance in Mariners at Blue Jays, Thursday afternoon (12:37 ET) at the Rogers Centre . The Jays have hit a major-league high 128 home runs in 69 home games (nearly two a game), and they average more than five runs a game at home. Hernandez hasn't faced the Blue Jays yet this year. Neither has CC Sabathia, who never lined up with any of the Yankees' first five series against the Jays (but figures to pitch in Toronto during the Yankees Sept. 27-29 visit).

3. First, Sabathia has a rematch with Tampa Bay's David Price, and if it's anything like their last game, it might be the 1 to watch this week. The first time around, a week ago in Florida, Sabathia and Price combined for 16 scoreless innings (eight apiece), while allowing just five hits (three of them off Price). They hook up again in Rays at Yankees, Thursday night (7:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium , and by the time it's over, we should have a better idea of who wins the American League East (and who's the AL wild card), and also of who is the leading threat to Hernandez's chance to win the Cy Young.

Posted on: September 19, 2010 7:36 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2010 7:47 pm

A reasoned, traditional argument for Felix

It feels impossible to have a reasoned argument about the American League Cy Young Award.

The new-age stat guys say you're a dinosaur if you even consider anyone but Felix Hernandez. The old-age win guys think you're nuts if you consider anyone who has basically been a .500 pitcher.

The first group no doubt noticed that Hernandez took a no-hitter into the eighth inning the other night against the Rangers (although knowing them, they were more impressed by his eight strikeouts) to improve his record to 12-11. The second group was more interested in seeing CC Sabathia record his 20th win the next night in Baltimore.

The second group will remind you that the idea of the game is to win. The first group insists just as loudly that wins are the least relevant statistic for starting pitchers.

The two sides can't talk to each other, because they don't even speak the same language. The first group swears by WAR; the second group might declare war on WAR, if it could even figure out what WAR is.

So here's my problem, an admittedly theoretical problem since I don't have an AL Cy Young vote this year:

I fit in more with the second group. I have nothing against many of the new stats, but I refuse to accept that wins don't matter. I've seen too many pitchers who pitch to their stats, who would rather have a six-inning, three-run quality start than a 6-5 complete-game win.

So I should be supporting CC for the Cy, right? And if not him, then maybe David Price.

Instead, with two weeks to go that could change my mind, I believe King Felix is the most deserving.

Does that mean that I've changed how I look at pitchers? Not really. Does it mean that I've accepted that wins are just a matter of luck? Not at all.

The only thing it means is that with all the evidence out there -- and with two weeks to go that could change things in what is a very close race -- I believe that Felix Hernandez has had a slightly better year than CC Sabathia or any other pitcher in the American League this year.

Not only that, but I believe that if anyone had an equivalent year to Felix back in 1991, when I first joined the Baseball Writers Association of America and could have had a Cy Young vote (don't remember whether I actually had one that year), I would have given him my vote.

Why? Here's why, without a single mention of WAR, FIP or ERA+:

-- Other than wins, he leads the league in all the traditional categories for starting pitchers. He's first in ERA, first in innings, first in strikeouts. The reason nobody won the Cy Young with a 12-11 record is that nobody ever had a season like this before. I checked. Using the excellent baseball-reference.com play finder, I searched for pitchers with 230 or more innings, 220 or more strikeouts, an ERA of 2.40 or lower and fewer than 14 wins. You know who came up? One guy. Felix. This year.

-- He's absolutely, 100 percent pitching to win. And his sad-sack team is absolutely, 100 percent not allowing him to win very often. The Mariners say Hernandez has had 13 starts where he has pitched at least seven innings and allowed one run or less, and five starts where he has at least eight shutout innings.

-- While he pitches in the weaker AL West, Hernandez has faced a tougher schedule than Sabathia or Price. Of Felix's 32 starts, 13 have come against probable playoff teams (and he's 7-5 with a 2.58 ERA in those seven games). Sabathia has made just six starts against playoff teams (he's 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA), and Price has made just seven (he's 2-2 with a 3.28 ERA). According to baseball-reference.com , Hernandez has made 17 starts against teams that are .500 or better (he's 9-6, 2.34), while Sabathia has made 13 (he's 6-2, 3.50) and Price has made 18 (10-5, 2.59).

-- As if it's not bad enough that he's saddled with one of the worst offenses in recent history, Hernandez hasn't even been helped by his bullpen. Despite all the innings he pitches, Hernandez has been the victim of three blown saves, plus another bullpen collapse so bad that it didn't count as a blown save because the lead was too big. Sabathia has also had three blown saves (and one other bullpen collapse) behind him, but he has been able to hand far more leads over to the bullpen. Factor in Felix's four complete-game wins, and that means he has turned 12 potential wins over to the bullpen; they've converted only eight of them (while CC's Yankee bullpen has converted 19 of 23).

So there you have it, an argument for Felix that doesn't ignore tradition, an argument that (hopefully) ignores all the noise and doesn't demand that you consider wins to be unimportant.

Posted on: August 30, 2010 10:52 pm

Eight runs later, Cahill's candidacy takes a hit

NEW YORK -- The year Chris Carpenter won the Cy Young Award with the Cardinals, he gave up eight runs in one game. And nine runs in another game.

Randy Johnson gave up nine runs in a game in 2001, and won the Cy Young.

So why is Trevor Cahill basically out of the Cy Young discussion after giving up eight runs to the Yankees on Monday night?

Simply because it was so hard for Cahill to get into the Cy Young discussion in the first place.

Cahill had plenty going against him, even when he was second in the American League in ERA, as he was before Monday's pounding. He's not a favorite of the stat guys, because he doesn't get many strikeouts (he ranked 44th in the AL going into Monday) and because they believe his .215 batting average on balls in play (into Monday) indicates that he's been "lucky."

I think it doesn't matter if you're lucky or unlucky, because the Cy Young is based on pitching success, not on predicting future success. It's about winning games and preventing runs, and Cahill, 14-5 with a 2.43 ERA before Monday, was doing a good job at both.

Since May 5, when he got his injury-delayed first win of the season, Cahill was tied with CC Sabathia for the most wins in the majors, with 14. He had a 1.63 ERA since the All-Star break and a 0.92 ERA in August, and he was averaging eight innings a start this month.

He was starting to look like a Cy Young candidate. And now he doesn't.

After one bad start?

Yes, even though Cliff Lee also had a recent start where he allowed eight runs (to Baltimore). Yes, even though Felix Hernandez has twice allowed seven earned runs this year.

Cahill couldn't afford this bad start, because despite making the All-Star team this year, he's a relative unknown ("He's young, and he plays for Oakland," teammate Mark Ellis explained).

He couldn't afford this bad start, because it helps feed the idea that Cahill's great stats have been helped by pitching in the hitting-poor AL West (although he doesn't get to pitch against the awful A's lineup).

Think of it this way: If you had a Cy Young vote and had to decide between Cahill and Hernandez, would it matter to you that in two starts against the Yankees, Cahill allowed 14 runs in 10 innings, while in three starts against New York, Hernandez allowed one run in 26 innings?

Maybe it wouldn't. Maybe Cahill won't allow another run the rest of the season, will go on to win the AL ERA crown and will convince us he deserves the Cy Young.

"He's been as good as anyone in the league," Ellis said.

He's had an outstanding season. Before Monday night, it was an outstanding season that brought him into the Cy Young debate.

Then he had his worst start of the year, one that led him to say, "I was just embarrassed to get hit around like that."

Someone then asked Cahill about the first-inning ball that ripped a hole in Ellis' glove at second base.

"Any time the other team is hitting balls breaking guys' gloves, that's not a good sign," Cahill said.

He's a good pitcher, and he seems like a good kid.

He's still having an outstanding season. Just not an outstanding Cy Young season.
Posted on: August 22, 2010 5:47 pm

3 to watch: The Home sweet home edition

The American League playoff races are in danger of becoming runaways, with the Rangers far ahead in the West, the Twins opening a gap on the White Sox in the Central and the Yankees and Rays holding good leads over the Red Sox for the East and wild-card leads.

What's a lot harder to determine -- and maybe almost as important -- is how those four teams would match up come October.

Will it be Yankees-Twins and Rays-Rangers? Or Yankees-Rangers and Rays-Twins? And who has home-field advantage?

Heading into play Sunday, the Twins were 2 1/2 games better than the Rangers. The team with the better record at the end of the season will open the playoffs at home, against the wild-card winner (as of Sunday morning, the Yankees led the Rays by one game). The team with the worse record likely opens on the road, against the East winner (since both the Yankees and Rays are likely to finish with better record than the Rangers and Twins).

Here's why it may matter: Counting last October, the Twins are 1-11 in New York since the start of 2008. Over the same span, they're 5-6 at Tropicana Field.

The Rangers, meanwhile, are below .500 on the road this year (including three straight losses in New York, and three straight at Tampa Bay). They're 39-23 at home. The Twins have also been much better at home (39-22, vs. 32-30 on the road).

You've got to believe that the Yankees would prefer to play an opening five-game series against the Twins, who don't have a dominating No. 1 starter, than against the Rangers, with Cliff Lee (who won twice for the Phillies in the 2009 World Series).

Keep all that in mind as the Twins play four games this week in Texas.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Yankees used just three starting pitchers in the postseason last year, and they won in large part because those three (CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte) were so good. Now two of those three are question marks, with Pettitte still on the disabled list with a groin injury and Burnett going 0-3 with a 6.08 ERA in four starts this month. With Javier Vazquez struggling with a lack of velocity, the Yankee rotation looks a lot less formidable, which is one reason it will be interesting to see how Ivan Nova does, in Yankees at Blue Jays, Monday night (7:07 ET) at the Rogers Centre . Nova, a 23-year-old right-hander who is considered the Yanks' top pitching prospect, was 12-3 with a 2.86 ERA at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Jays aren't an easy opening opponent, especially at home, where they've hit a major-league leading 103 home runs in 55 games.

2. When Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young Award last year, it was supposedly an indication that voters no longer care about how many wins a pitcher has (Greinke had 16; runner-up Felix Hernandez had 19). But what does that mean for Hernandez, who has a 9-10 record this year but otherwise has credentials to be legit Cy candidate (including a 1.54 ERA in his last 14 starts)? Hernandez gets another good chance to make his case, in Mariners at Red Sox, Wednesday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Fenway Park . His opponent is Jon Lester, whose own Cy chances had to take a big hit when he allowed nine runs to the Blue Jays on Friday night.

3. Lee's Cy chances have taken a hit recently, too, as he's 0-2 with an 8.24 ERA in his last three starts. His next start comes in Twins at Rangers, Thursday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark , and you can bet someone will mention that the Twins also tried to trade for Lee this year. Francisco Liriano starts Thursday for the Twins, which is appropriate, since if there's a Twins pitcher who has a chance to be a true No. 1, he's it.

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