Tag:Albert Pujols
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:45 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 5:58 pm
 

Jose Bautista: The best player you have heard of

Just a few days back, someone sent me a note on Twitter complaining about All-Star balloting.

"Laughable at best," he said.

Normally, I might agree. But not this week.

Not when the fans make Jose Bautista the leading vote-getter in all of baseball.

Not when Bautista can get more votes than Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter or anybody else in the game, the same week that Time magazine runs a story headlined, "Jose Bautista: The best baseball player you've never heard of."

There's a long way to go before the voting ends, but by June 1 last year, Joe Mauer was already the leading vote-getter. And Mauer ended up on top, with Jeter second and Pujols close behind him. And Bautista -- or any other Blue Jay -- was nowhere close.

That's what makes the Bautista voting even better. This never happens with a Toronto player.

No Blue Jay has ever finished first overall in the voting, not even in the World Series years in the early 1990s. The Blue Jays have had fewer starters elected than any American League team but the Rays, who have 20 years less history.

Last year, Vernon Wells was the leading Blue Jay in voting. He was 58th overall (and with fewer votes than Bautista has already).

Even this year, while Bautista has 1,261,659 votes, no other Blue Jays player has more than 320,874.

This isn't a team stuffing the ballot box. This is a whole bunch of fans recognizing a guy who deserves recognition.

This is a whole bunch of fans, as it turns out, proving Time magazine wrong.

You have heard of Jose Bautista. And you voted for him.

Good for him. And good for you.



Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:46 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:08 pm
 

The Gaby Sanchez All-Star campaign

NEW YORK -- Joey Votto is the reigning MVP.

Albert Pujols is the best player in the game. Ryan Howard leads the league in RBI.

And Logan Morrison is trying to get Gaby Sanchez elected as the National League's All-Star first baseman.

I guess you can't blame a guy for trying. But you realize, Logan, this isn't going to be easy.

"I'm trying to get the awareness out there," the Marlins left fielder said Monday.

Morrison began his campaign over the weekend on Twitter, at @LoMoMarlins. He plans to continue it daily there, and vowed to take the campaign to the MLB network, and wherever else he can.

"I've got 25,000 [Twitter] followers, and if they all vote 25 times . . . " Morrison said.

If they all vote 25 times, it's still not going to be enough.

"It can't hurt, right?" Morrison said.

And what does Sanchez think of all this?

"He's politically correct," Morrison said. "He says he doesn't care, and just wants the team to win."

For the record, Sanchez is off to a fine start. He's a fine player, and if you didn't read colleague Scott Miller's column about him in spring training, it's still worth reading now.

And, as Morrison helpfully pointed out, Pujols is off to an uncharacteristic slow start. Votto and Howard aren't, but Pujols is.

Anyway, if you want to vote for Sanchez, go right ahead. It would certainly please Logan Morrison.

Just don't expect him to win.

Not at first base. Not in the National League.


Posted on: April 21, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 12:18 am
 

Braun is good, but is he $21 million a year good?

Every year he's played in the big leagues, Ryan Braun has been listed on at least one MVP ballot.

He's good. But is he $21 million a year good?

Is he so good that the Brewers should have extended his contract for five years, 4 1/2 years before his current deal expires?

I'm happy for Braun, one of the good guys in the game. But I understand why eyebrows are being raised around the game about his new five-year, $105 million contract, which doesn't even kick in until the 2016 season.

I also understand how dangerous it can be for a mid-market team to wait before trying to sign a star player to an extension.

Look what happened with Albert Pujols.

The Rockies had exactly that in mind when they extended Troy Tulowitzki's contract last winter, when Tulowitzki still had three years plus a club option remaining on his previous deal. If they waited, the Rockies worried, their franchise player might just get too expensive for them to keep, or too tempted by free agency.

Tulowitzki became the first big-league player signed through 2020. Now Braun is the second.

If Tulowitzki wins an MVP or two between now and 2014, when the new part of his deal kicks in, he could easily be worth more than the $20 million per year (from 2015-2019) that the Rockies signed him for. Same goes for Braun, whose new deal has an average annual value of $21 million.

But even if the Tulowitzki and Braun deals look team-friendly by then, they're not bad deals for the player. Not at all.

For one thing, they get security, and get paid even if they get hurt or don't perform. For another, they get more money up front. Braun's new deal included a $10 million signing bonus.

It's still a ton of money for a player the Brewers could have waited a year or two to extend. The $21 million average annual value is the second-highest ever for an outfielder, behind Manny Ramirez's two-year, $45 million deal with the Dodgers.

Braun is very good, one of just seven players to start the last two All-Star Games.

Is he good enough to warrant this big a commitment, good enough that the Brewers had to sign him to an extension with 4 1/2 years to spare?

Obviously, the Brewers thought so.


Posted on: February 24, 2011 8:08 pm
 

Stronger CarGo still has enthusiasm of a kid

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Carlos Gonzalez came to spring training carrying a few more pounds of muscle.

He also came to camp with a little more understanding of his place in the game.

Gonzalez is 25 years old, and he's already had a season good enough that he finished third in voting for the National League Most Valuable Player. But he also shows the excitement of a kid when he talks about meeting other great players.

"It's really funny," the Rockies outfielder said the other day. "At the end of the year last year, [Albert] Pujols came to me and said he wanted my autograph. I was shocked.

"And let me tell you something else funny. I saw Victor Martinez at the [American embassy in Caracas, Venezuela], when I went to get my visa. He told me he wants to hit like me. I always wanted to hit like him."

As for the extra muscle, Gonzalez said he wanted to get stronger, after his weight dropped to about 200 pounds by the end of the 2010 season.

"I want to try to stay at 210-215 pounds the whole season," said Gonzalez, adding that he weighs about 220 pounds right now.

Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:45 am
Edited on: September 24, 2010 12:23 pm
 

3 to watch: The Giant issue edition

Even if you count the Rockies as now basically out of the National League West -- the standings say they're in serious trouble, their recent history says who knows? -- the Giants' three games this weekend at Coors Field are a potentially huge obstacle to San Francisco's chances of winning the division.

Despite what happened Thursday at Wrigley Field (a nine-run inning, a 13-0 win), the Giants' path to first place in the West has been built almost totally on pitching. Including Thursday, they've now gone 17 games since they last allowed four runs, a streak that according to the Elias Sports Bureau is the longest by any team in a single season since the 1917 White Sox went 20 games in a row.

Now they go to Coors Field, where the Rockies have scored four or more in 19 of their last 21 games, and where the home team hits so well that some Giants apparently think the Rockies have been monkeying with the humidor process .

Since Coors Field opened in 1995, only five teams have gone through an entire three-game series without ever allowing four runs. All five of those series have come in the humidor era (which began in 2002), but it still comes down to one series a season -- and it hasn't happened yet this year.

And the Giants, despite all their pitching and despite three trips a year to Colorado, have never done it.

Maybe that's why the Giants haven't won a season series at Coors since 2005. They're 2-4 in the first six games this year, so they'd need a sweep to win this season series.

Given the Rockies' collapse on the road this week -- they couldn't hold a 6-1 lead Sunday in Los Angeles, then got swept in three games in Arizona -- the Giants don't necessarily need a sweep this weekend. Their lead over the Padres is only a half-game, but San Diego also faces a potentially tough series, at home against the Reds.

Besides, the Giants' head-to-head showdown with the Padres next weekend will be at AT&T Park, where the Giants have allowed just 16 runs in their last nine games.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Tim Lincecum hasn't won at Coors Field since May 20, 2008. Then again, Lincecum hadn't won anywhere for a month before his 2-1 win over the Rockies on Sept. 1 in San Francisco. He's been very good the entire month, and maybe that means he'll win at Coors, too, when he opens the series in Giants at Rockies, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . While the Giants are 0-4 in Lincecum's last four starts in Colorado, he hasn't been awful, with a 4.32 ERA in that span.

2. The Reds enter the weekend with a magic number of 3, and that means the soonest they could clinch their first division title in 15 years is in Reds at Padres, Saturday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park . That would take a little cooperation from the second-place Cardinals, but all the Cardinals have been doing recently is cooperating. As Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse pointed out on Twitter, the Cards are 9-17 since Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols attended Glenn Beck's rally in Washington.

3. The biggest advantage the Braves have in the National League wild-card race is that the Giants and Padres play each other next weekend. That means for three of the remaining 10 days on the schedule, either the Giants or the Padres is guaranteed to lose (and that the team that wins could win the division and not affect the Braves' wild-card chances at all). For it to be an advantage, though, the Braves need to win. They need to do to the Nationals this weekend what they did to the Mets last weekend, and that means they need to beat Livan Hernandez in Braves at Nationals, Sunday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Nationals Park . Hernandez threw eight shutout innings in a 6-0 win over the Braves last weekend in Atlanta, and he's 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA in four starts against the Braves this year. The Braves starter Sunday, they hope is Jair Jurrjens, who missed his Monday start in Philadelphia with a knee problem. As manager Bobby Cox said, "He'd better be able to pitch." Sunday is also the Braves' final regular-season road game, which means it's the final time an opposing team will pay tribute to Cox, who is retiring at the end of the season. The best gifts he has received so far: a No. 6 from the scoreboard at Wrigley Field, a set of wine glasses with all the NL team logos from the Reds, and many checks to support his charity helping homeless veterans. Cox entered the weekend with 2,499 wins in 4,499 career games.




Posted on: September 3, 2010 11:02 am
 

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

We circle them on the schedule. We ask about the matchups.

We even feature them in 3 to watch.

And then, right before our eyes, the most important series of the summer can fizzle out before they even begin.

And we wonder if they were ever as important as we made them out to be in the first place.

Reds vs. Cardinals?

Remember what happened last time?

Yeah, we remember. In that all-important series last month in Cincinnati, the Reds did all the talking (and some of the fighting), and the Cardinals did all the winning.

Important series, right?

Yeah, except that the Cardinals seem to have forgotten that cliché about how every game is important, about how it doesn't matter if you win the head-to-head meetings if you then lose against somebody else.

Since those three wins at Great American Ball Park, the Cards are 5-13. They've won just one series (against the Giants), and lost five others -- all to sub-.500 teams.

The Reds, meanwhile, have gone 14-4. They've lost just one series (against the Giants), and won five others -- two of them against winning teams.

So now, as the Reds and Cardinals meet again, the Reds come in with an eight-game lead.

There's still plenty to talk about, and perhaps Brandon Phillips will open the series by doing more talking.

There's Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto. There's Walt Jocketty and Scott Rolen coming back to St. Louis as likely NL Central conquerors. There's Tony La Russa vs. Dusty Baker, and who knows if that's the last time we'll see them go against each other.

And, if you think the Cardinals still have a chance to catch the Reds, there's the point that now this really is the most important series of the summer.

And that's why we're still featuring it in 3 to watch.

1. Five of the last 10 teams to make the World Series had at least a seven-game losing streak at some point during the season. That's not a prediction that the Padres will make it, just a reminder that their current seven-game spin doesn't necessarily doom them to collapse. It does put huge pressure on them in the 10-game homestand that begins with Rockies at Padres, Friday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park . The first game would be an interesting one, anyway, because for the first time since May, the Padres are going away from their five-man rotation, in this case starting 25-year-old rookie Cory Luebke. For now, Luebke is only giving the other five starters an extra day of rest, but if he pitches well and ends the streak, manager Bud Black will have even more to think about in the days to come.

2. It's hard to blame the Cardinals' collapse on anyone in particular. You certainly can't blame Pujols, who has a 1.142 OPS over the 18 games. And as for the pitching, the Cards' team ERA over the last 18 games (4.15) is better than the Reds' team ERA (4.69) over the same span. But take a look at Adam Wainwright, who might have been the Cy Young leader after his Aug. 11 win in Cincinnati (which left him 17-6 with a 1.99 ERA). Wainwright is 0-3 with a 5.21 ERA in three starts since, heading into Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium . Travis Wood, Wainwright's 23-year-old mound opponent, didn't face the Cardinals in the series in Cincinnati. In the three weeks since, he's 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA.

3. The Yankees and Rays are both heading to the playoffs, but they say it's important to finish first in the American League East, in part because it means home-field advantage if the two teams meet in the American League Championship Series. In effect, there's the same kind of battle going on this weekend, in a series that ends with Rangers at Twins, Sunday afternoon (2:10 ET) at Target Field . The AL Central-leading Twins head into the series with a 1 1/2-game lead over the AL West-leading Rangers, which means that the Twins would have home-field advantage if these two teams met in the ALCS. The Twins have other things on their mind, with just a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place White Sox. The Rangers also have something else on their mind: Cliff Lee's back, which was sore enough that Lee had an injection this week in Texas. Lee's scheduled side session Saturday may be as important to them as any of the games they play this weekend.
Posted on: April 5, 2010 7:00 pm
 

The MVP of opening day

He was the MVP in 2008. He was the MVP in 2009.

And already, Albert Pujols is the MVP of 2010 -- the MVP of opening day.

Pujols went 4 for 5 with two home runs today for the Cardinals. But check out his numbers over 10 opening day games with St. Louis:

17 hits in 36 at-bats, for a .472 batting average. 4 doubles, 4 home runs, 13 RBIs. 9 walks. A .565 on-base percentage. A .917 slugging percentage. A 1.482 OPS.

Even for Pujols (career OPS 1.055), that's something special.

He's the MVP -- until further notice.

And he's the MVP -- of opening day.

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 24, 2009 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2009 4:25 pm
 

A tough vote -- no, really

This was one of the easiest MVP votes ever.

And also one of the toughest.

The easiest because Albert Pujols was such an obvious winner, the first unanimous MVP since Barry Bonds in 2002. The toughest because there were so many great candidates to finish second through 10th.

I know, because I was one of the 32 voters for this year's National League MVP. And I can tell you that while it took me about half a second to decide on Pujols, I spent hours thinking about the other nine spots.

In most things, and even in most of the BBWAA postseason awards, nobody really cares who finishes second. It’s different with the MVP, where each spot is cherished, often rewarded (with contract bonuses) and sometimes even remembered.

One of the big reasons Jim Rice got my Hall of Fame vote was that six times in his career, he finished in the top five in MVP voting. The Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the dominant players of each era, and if you’re regularly recognized as one of the top five players in the league, that’s a pretty good show of dominance.

Speaking of which, let’s get back to Pujols, because besides winning the MVP three times (only Barry Bonds, with seven, has won it more), the Cardinals star has finished in the Top 10 in the voting in each of his first nine big-league seasons.

That’s unheard of.

The only other players with nine straight Top 10 finishes were Stan Musial and Willie Mays (who both went on to a 10th in a row), and neither did it in his first nine years. Pujols now has three first-place finishes, three second-place finishes, one third-place, one fourth-place and one ninth-place (in 2007).

Incredible.

So those other spots on the ballot do count, even when we’ve all known for months who’s going to finish at the top.

The rest of my ballot, with quick comments:

2. Ryan Howard. Tied for the league lead in RBIs, a close third in home runs, and once again dominated down the stretch for the team that won the NL East. Howard drove in 59 runs in his last 50 games. No one else in the majors had more than 41.

3. Hanley Ramirez. The batting champion, while driving in 106 runs and playing shortstop for a team that stayed in the race a lot longer than it should have.

4. Troy Tulowitzki. His turnaround matched his team’s.

5. Chris Carpenter. I still say he should have won the Cy Young, but his value goes beyond the days he pitches. Credited with finding a flaw in teammate Adam Wainwright’s delivery.

6. Prince Fielder. A great season, but he couldn’t keep the Brewers in the race.

7. Matt Kemp. Tough to pick between him and teammate Andre Ethier, but Ethier slumped during Manny Ramirez’s suspension, so Kemp finishes one spot higher.

8. Andre Ethier. The walkoff hits suggest he could have been higher on the ballot, but in front of who?

9. Matt Holliday. Only spent half the season in the NL, but his arrival helped spur the Cardinals to the NL Central crown.

10. Chase Utley. Another guy who easily could have gone higher on the ballot.

Could have been included, but couldn’t find a spot for them: Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Braun, Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum.


 
 
 
 
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