October 2012

Is Tim McCarver the Worst Ever?

Courtesy: jerseyisbest.blogspot.com

Last night, when Barry Zito singled in the 4th inning off of Justin Verlander, the San Francisco Giants crowd at AT&T Park started chanting “Bar-ry, Bar-ry.” Not a big deal, only…McCarver’s reaction was to say that “that’s a sound that is not heard too often in this park.” Sure…for Barry Zito, but where was Tim McCarver with Barry FREAKIN’ Bonds was playing!?! The crowd did it all the time.

When Joe Buck tried to correct McCarver by saying “they used to say it for someone else around here,” McCarver replies with “Barry Manilow.”

Here is a link to that amazing conversation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VHk65O37y5g

I hope he was drunker than Harry Carey at that moment, but it was just another example of the stupidity that Tim McCarver spews. While people, specifically Frank Caliendo, have made a living ripping apart John Madden, McCarver is just as bad. Some other zingers:

  • “I think if you asked that question 30 years ago, it would have brought a different response.”
  • “Well one option that Joe Girardi has is to keep Chamberlain in to pitch the next inning. *pause* Oh, I guess they pinch hit for him. Never mind.”
  • McCarver:  “Take a look at the hitters bat.  Now, if that bat is not in fair territory, there is absolutely -no way- he can bunt the ball INTO fair territory”(Hitter proceeds to bunt the ball fairly down the 3rd base line, while his bat was clearly in foul territory)Joe Buck:  “That rather dispells the theory of the fair/foul bat approach.”

    McCarver:  “Yes Joe, it does”

  • When describing an increase in home runs: “It has not been proven, but I think ultimately it will be proven that the air is thinner now, there have been climactic changes over the last 50 years in the world, and I think that’s one of the reasons balls are carrying much better now than I remember.”

McCarver was an All-Star in 1966 and 1967, finishing second in the NL MVP race in 1967 to his teammate, Orlando Cepeda. However, in his 21-year career, McCarver was nothing more than average at best, with his best comparison over his career being to Jim Sundberg…You probably have to look him up to realize what he accomplished. McCarver hit .271/.337/.388 in 5,529 at-bats, and while his fielding percentage was better than league average during his career (.990 to .988), his arm left a lot to be desired, throwing out 34 percent would-be base stealers when the league average was 37 percent.

While he won two World Series titles with the Cardinals and appeared in his two All-Star Games, at 71 years of age, McCarver is not capable of relating to the game, the current players, but especially to fans. When you need a good explanation of what happened, he certainly is not going to give it to you.

While Bob Costas and his holier-than-thou approach at sports is the most annoying, and Dick Vitale’s obnoxious at best, Tim McCarver ranks right up there with Chris Berman as the worst announcer ever.

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Move Buster Posey from Catcher

Buster Posey had an MVP-type season in 2012, as I even picked him as the NL MVP for my own 2012 MLB Awards. Posey posted a .336/.408/.549 line, winning his first batting title, leading the majors in OPS+, and, obviously, leading the San Francisco Giants to the 2012 World Series.

Posey played shortstop at Florida State in his Freshman year, 2006, before moving to catcher in his Sophomore season, when he was a finalist for the 2007 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, given to the top Division I catcher in college baseball. Not a bad start, and the fact that Posey gunned down 40.9 percent of potential base stealers in his first season behind the dish showed his defensive potential.

Posey was drafted by the Giants with the 5th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft. He was up for good by 2010, having compiled 750 at-bats in the minors, helping the Giants win the World Series and winning the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year.

When Scott Cousins ripped up Posey’s ankle sliding into home plate on May 25, 2011, Posey would go on to miss the next 114 games and the Giants missed the playoffs. They won the World Series in 2010 and they are back there in 2012. Coincidence?

Buster Posey is fully aware of the injuries that can occur when catching, having lived through his disaster in 2011. It isn’t limited to the leg injury, though, as a collision could lead to a concussion, which could then lead to post-concussion syndromes whenever a foul ball rocks Posey’s hockey goalie-style mask. Look at Justin Morneau‘s spiraling career to see how quickly concussions can ruin everything you have worked for.

Buster Posey is a fantastic catcher. His career fielding percentage is .992, which is league average since he arrived in the bigs, but his range factor is above-average at catcher. He has thrown out 33 percent of would-be base stealers in his career (the league average in 27), while mashing to the tune of a .307/.374/.494 triple slash in 877 at-bats and 235 games as a catcher. Posey has 46 doubles, two triples, 38 home runs, and 152 RBI as a catcher.

Posey is a work in progress at first baseman. However, Posey has hit .355/.415/.571 in 217 at-bats and 61 games when playing first base. He has 21 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, and 37 RBI when playing first.

Buster Posey is an excellent catcher and he can handle the position, but can the Giants afford life without him? Should they protect their star player and the face of the Giants’ franchise by moving him now?

The 2011 season shows what the Giants are without Buster Posey. The injury to Posey could, eventually, lead to arthritis in his left knee and ankle due to the breaking of bones and the tear of ligaments.

Hector Sanchez is ready to play regularly. He turns 23 years old on November 17 and he is a switch-hitter. Sanchez jumped from High-A to Triple-A in 2011, receiving 31 at-bats in San Francisco that year. However, Sanchez isn’t going to develop into the hitter that he could be, the same one who hit 12 home runs and drove in 84 runs in the 2011 minor league season, if he doesn’t get regular playing time.

Buster Posey doesn’t need to move off of catcher to make room for Hector Sanchez. Buster Posey needs to move off of catcher to produce even bigger numbers, to win more MVP awards, and to continue to make the Giants World Series contenders for the next several seasons.

Posey could even play catcher sporadically, as Victor Martinez did in 2011 with Alex Avila taking over the regular catching duties in Detroit. You could even make the argument that Posey is better off in the outfield than first base, due to the presence of Brandon Belt, who plays a Gold Glove level defense at first, and the athletic ability that Posey possesses.

Whatever happens, Posey is a superstar and he needs to stay on the field for the San Francisco Giants to be legitimate World Series contenders. Moving him off of catcher is a choice that could keep him on the field, prolong his career, and continue to allow the Giants to reap the benefits of having Posey in their lineup for more games, which allows him to impact the whole 162-game season.

World Series Preview

With the Giants Game 7 win on Monday night in San Francisco, the world prepares for its series, with Game 1 on Wednesday night at AT&T Park. The Giants get home-field advantage with that awesome Bud Selig, All-Star Game idea, as the National League won the mid-summer classic in July.

Some things to look forward to:

Pitching:

Courtesy: dcobb1621.blogspot.com

The Tigers’ starting pitchers are 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA in nine postseason games, covering 62 innings, while posting a 66:19 K:BB. That stat includes the absolute domination of the New York Yankees in the ALCS, where Tigers’ starters were 3-0 with a 0.66 ERA. The Tigers have the luxury of setting up their rotation for Game 1, which would allow them to start Justin Verlander in Game 1, 4, and 7; however, Jim Leyland has penciled in a four-man rotation in the World Series, with Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer slated to toe the rubber for the Tigers.

The Giants taking the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games and losing Matt Cain is sort of devastating for the outlook on the series. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy could surprise people with what he does, especially after moving Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum around from the rotation to the bullpen already within this postseason. If Bochy keeps his NLCS roster, the Giants could start Tim Lincecum in Game 1, followed by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, and Cain in Game 4. Due to Lincecum’s struggles in Game 4 of the NLCS, could the “rest” that Bumgarner received allow him to jump back into the rotation, after Bochy said he was “tired” after his Game 1 loss to the Cardinals?

However the Giants rotation shapes up, the spacious ballparks involved in this series will allow for success from the least likely of candidates. The power that lies in the arms of the Tigers’ starting pitchers could make for some high strikeout totals, while the blend of power and finesse in the Giants rotation could lead to some very low scoring games.

Power:

Power in the throwing arms is evident but the greatest asset that the Tigers possess are the two bats in the middle of their order, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Those two are capable of changing the game with one swing, and while the Giants have power in the bats of Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey, they aren’t nearly as productive, historically and recently, as the portly sluggers on the Tigers.

Courtesy: USAtoday.com

While Comerica Park and AT&T Park can sap the power in both lineups, both teams have enough on-base and speed guys (see Austin Jackson and Marco Scutaro) to manufacture runs. However, one swing of the bat can change everything, just ask Cincinnati fans, who saw the grand slam by Posey in Game 5 of the NLDS destroy their lives. While the advantage lies with Fielder and Cabrera, the Giants, so long thought to be ineffective offensively, have enough to win this series.

Passion:

There is nothing better than postseason baseball. Watching the fans in San Francisco the last two nights is what makes baseball special. While they were there for all of the 81 home games in the 2012 regular season, the fire and excitement over the last two nights fueled the Giants to an amazing comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS.

The Tigers are showing the passion of a city in the middle of a rebirth. While there were times of weakness, the strengths of Detroit came out to conquer those moments, establishing the franchise as a legitimate juggernaut, just as Detroit has done with the rebound of the American car manufacturing companies.

The pitching is going to make the “normal baseball fan” bored, but this series is exactly what the die-hard fans enjoy. The team that makes the first mistake in each game will lose, and the scores will look lower than a Tiger Woods scorecard before his man-whorishness was made public.

What to Expect:

The Giants will enjoy their home-field advantage in Game 1, continuing the momentum that drove them to a tremendous comeback over the Tigers, but due to the opening game loss, Jim Leyland will run Justin Verlander out for Game 4 and again in Game 7, which the Tigers will win with another Verlander shutout.  Max Scherzer becomes the Tigers’ version of Trevor Rosenthal, making several appearances but totally shutting down the opposition.

Tigers in 7. Justin Verlander will be the World Series MVP. Brian Wilson‘s beard is still better than Sergio Romo‘s, however, it’s still a distant second to Peter Griffin’s.  

Courtesy: familyguy.wikia.com

The Value of a Trade

Courtesy: NY Daily News

The Yankees wanted Curtis Granderson to play centerfield for them after he averaged 29 doubles, 13 triples, 23 home runs, 16 stolen bases, and 103 runs over four full seasons for the Detroit Tigers from 2006 to 2009. Granderson had a pretty team friendly, five-year, $30.25 million deal from 2008 through 2009, with a team option for 2013 for $13 million or a $2 million buyout, which only sweetened the deal for New York.

The Yankees were getting a nice power and speed outfielder, but little did they know that Granderson was capable of erupting for the 84 home runs and 225 RBI that he has produced the last two seasons. However, Granderson’s total meltdown in the ALCS and the entire postseason makes you wonder what one player is worth, especially as the Yankees head home after being swept by the team that they acquired Granderson from.

Granderson was traded from Detroit to New York in a three-team deal on December 8, 2009. The Tigers traded Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. The Yankees gave Arizona Ian Kennedy, who has gone 45-26 with a 3.55 ERA in 98 starts since the trade. In return, the Tigers received Austin Jackson and Phil Coke from the Yankees and Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from the Diamondbacks.

While the deal was centered upon Curtis Granderson and the Yankees receiving another dynamic talent, how much influence did the players that the Tigers received in the deal have on the postseason in 2012?

  • Max Scherzer: 1-0, two starts, 11 IP, 5 H, 0.82 ERA, 18:3 K:BB
  • Phil Coke: 7 games, 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0.00 ERA, 2 saves, 5:2 K:BB
  • Austin Jackson: .297/.350/.514, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI
  • Daniel Schlereth: Did Not Play; DL

It’s only been nine games for the Tigers this postseason, but with the lack of depth in the New York Yankees rotation the entire season, how nice would Ian Kennedy have looked in there? And, while Granderson provides power and produces runs, Austin Jackson has become a fantastic player. How different are the two players?

  • Player A: 314 runs, 61 2B, 21 3B, 108 HR, 292 RBI, 47 SB, .843 OPS
  • Player B: 296 runs, 85 2B, 35 3B, 30 HR, 152 RBI, 61 SB, .761 OPS

Austin Jackson

Considering his position in the middle of the order, Granderson, Player A, dominates in the power categories, which drives up his OPS, HR, and RBI numbers. However, since Austin Jackson is the Tigers’ leadoff hitter, he, Player B, has also impressed by posting a higher average (.280 to .247) and on-base percentage (.346 to .337) than Granderson the last three seasons.

The moral of the story here is that the Yankees gave up Austin Jackson, Coke, and Kennedy, and the Diamondbacks gave up Scherzer and Schlereth, all so that the Yankees could get Curtis Granderson.

When you go all-in for an individual talent and watch the players you gave up beat you…ouch.

Granderson finished the postseason 3-for-30 with 16 strikeouts, one run, one home run, and a lot of questions leading into the 2013 season, especially after being relegated to pinch-hitting duties the last game of the ALCS.

How Can You Rebuild the Yankees?

Keith Olbermann reported on his MLBlog on October 17 that the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins are already discussing a deal involving Alex Rodriguez once the season is over. This is big news due to the struggles of Rodriguez during the postseason, 3-for-23 (.103) with 12 strikeouts, and that fact that the quickly aging veteran is due another $114 million over the next five seasons.

Alex Rodriguez is taking a lot of heat for his struggles, as if he is the only player currently struggling during the club’s rotten postseason. Mind you, Robinson Cano is 3-for-36 (.083) and Curtis Granderson is just 3-for-29 (.103) with 15 strikeouts, so what is the deal with the hatred for the game’s highest paid player? The Yankees have bigger issues, including, how are they going to rebuild the franchise if the potential trade of Alex Rodriguez actually does happen?

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Moving Alex Rodriguez would signify a possible change in philosophy. While the Yankees have spent many hundreds of millions in payroll over the last decade, could this be the end of “buying” the talent, all because of an apparent very quick regression in some of their talent?

The Yankees have some things to look at with their current roster:

After that, the Yankees have some payroll concerns:

  • Alex Rodriguez, as mentioned before, is owed $114 million over the next five years.
  • C.C. Sabathia is due $119 million (counting his $25 million 2017 option) over the next five years.
  • Mark Teixeria is going to make $90 million over the next four seasons.
  • Derek Jeter will make $17 million in 2013 and either $8 million in 2014 or a $3 million buyout.
  • Rafael Soriano is guaranteed $14 million in 2013.

The problem with trading Alex Rodriguez is that the Yankees would have to eat a huge portion of the $114 million that he is owed. Since 2007, A-Rod’s OPS has gone from 1.067 (his MVP season) to .965, .933, .847, .823, and finally .783 in 2012. At the age of 37 (turning 38 next July), why would anyone give anything of value for the declining future Hall of Famer?

Dealing Rodriguez to the Miami Marlins for Heath Bell and Logan Morrison would be a solid deal, even paying $50-70 million of his deal, so that the team gets more bullpen help and a potential replacement in an outfield corner with Swisher and Ichiro both headed to free agency. However, that deal probably would not sit well with fans.

Should the club let all of their free agents depart, will they go after Josh Hamilton in free agency? Could Hamilton’s previous off-the-field issues, which he still admits to battling, become a huge issue in the largest media market in the world?

Should the club trade Granderson and/or Cano on top of dealing Rodriguez, just to allow the franchise to make a fresh start, like the Boston Red Sox deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which included the contracts of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez?

For what it is worth, dealing Alex Rodriguez would open up third base in one of the weakest years for free agent third base in recent memory, including: Miguel Cairo, Mark DeRosa, Alberto Gonzalez, Brandon Inge, Maicer Izturis, Jose Lopez, Scott Rolen, Drew Sutton, and, if their options aren’t picked up, Ty Wigginton and Kevin Youkilis.

Courtesy: NY Times

Would the club really go into the season with Eduardo Nunez at the hot corner? General Manager Brian Cashman would have to look in the mirror and commit to a potential rebuilding mode if that is the case.

While Alex Rodriguez has struggled and his value and stock has plummeted, the unfortunate facts are that the Yankees would be and will be better with him at third base in 2013 than they would be by making a trade. Unless the Bronx Bombers were able to trade Robinson Cano to Baltimore for Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado after trading Rodriguez, starting to make trades to change the structure of the team just does not make sense.

Cashman would have to make several trades involving star players and huge contracts, just to fill the several holes that would remain from the various deals. If you trade Rodriguez, he would need to trade for a third baseman. If he traded Cano, who would play second? If he traded Granderson, he could possibly get Hamilton, but what if the Red Sox or Rangers outbid him?

You can’t rebuild the New York Yankees. Brian Cashman is in a situation where he needs to win, in a market and a fan base that wants to win – see the attendance in the ALCS. The club will rebuild by reloading, like they have done, through free agency. They will acquire a top-tier or solid starting pitcher and a solid outfielder, and they will be right back where they were. They will probably have the veterans mentioned in potential deals, as well, because it is not worth the potential hassle of dealing the contracts and taking so much less in value, just to make a change.

2013 MLB Free Agents: Top 10 Starting Pitchers

Courtesy: ESPN

Below is a list of starting pitchers who will, or could, reach free agency. Some players listed have options that will probably not be picked up, while others are totally free to sign with whomever they choose or settle for.

1. Zack Greinke, RHP, 10/21/1983

91-78, 3.77 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 1,492 IP, 1,332:379 K:BB

Greinke has been traded twice in the last two years, first from Kansas City to Milwaukee, then from Milwaukee to the Los Angeles Angels. The right-hander has overcome some personal anxiety battles, but those mental battles could limit his potential suitors when he hits free agency. Those interested in the front line starter may want to consider his home and road splits, as Greinke is a true ace at home (55-30, 3.42 ERA in 138 games, 118 starts) but very mediocre away from his apparent comfort zones (36-48, 4.15 ERA, 134 games, 113 starts). At 29, Greinke will be one of two players (Josh Hamilton being the other) to cash in with a $100 million deal this winter.

2. Edwin Jackson, RHP, 11/9/1983

70-71, 4.40 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 1,268.2 IP, 969:497 K:BB

The stuff finally produced the strikeouts that Jackson’s arsenal was capable of in the second half of 2012, when Jackson posted a 92:28 K:BB in 88.1 innings, a 9.4 K/9 rate. Jackson posted a 9.2 K/9 in 2010 once he was traded to the Chicago White Sox, but could this be where Jackson finally cashes in and becomes an ace? If Jackson lands in a pitcher’s park, he could continue to take the steps necessary to become the pitcher everyone thought he was when he was outdueling Randy Johnson back in 2003 at the age of 19. He’ll finally get his long-term deal, even after pitching for seven teams in ten years.

3. Anibal Sanchez, RHP, 2/27/1984

48-51, 3.75 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 869 IP, 733:320 K:BB

Sanchez has yet to reach 200 innings in a season, but he has reached 200 strikeouts in a season once (2011). The stuff has always been there to help him reach ace levels, but there has also been concerns about his health at times in his career, warranted due to his innings limits to this point. Sanchez pitched very well down the stretch for the Detroit Tigers and could be on his way to establishing himself as the top-of-the-rotation starter that made him a part of the deal from Boston for Josh Beckett years ago.

4. Jake Peavy, RHP, 5/31/1981

120-93, 3.46 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 1,800.1 IP, 1,748:548 K:BB

Peavy had his first full season since 2008 in 2012 and his first season with at least 30 starts since 2007. It has been a long struggle with shoulder woes for Peavy, but he looked like his former self in 2012 amassing a 3.37 ERA and a 194:49 K:BB in 219 innings. Peavy is due either a $4 million buyout or a $22 million salary, so the chances of him returning to the White Sox in 2013 are about as slim as Jay-Z never dropping the “b” word again. Peavy will cash in, as some team will gamble on the shoulder staying strong and his revival being legit.

5. Kyle Lohse, RHP, 10/4/1978

118-109, 4.45 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 1,973 IP, 1,238:565 K:BB

Lohse put on a clinic in 2012, going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. The two seasons, Lohse is 30-11 with a 3.11 ERA over 399.1 innings. He’s clearly made himself a lot of money. Lohse is 34, so his contract could be limited. Teams could also be concerned about his pre-2011 form, as Lohse was just 88-98 with a 4.79 ERA over 10 seasons and 1,573.2 innings. St. Louis seems like a great fit, especially with an aging Chris Carpenter, as the Cardinals continue grooming Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, and Shelby Miller for rotation gigs.

6. Dan Haren, RHP, 9/17/1980

119-97, 3.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 1,876.2 IP, 1,585:395 K:BB

Haren has had some back issues the last couple of seasons, but he still managed to start 30 games in 2012. Haren has had issues his entire career maintaining his dominance, posting a 3.36 ERA and 63-50 record over 1,019.1 first half innings, while dropping to 56-47 with a 4.01 ERA in 857.1 second half innings. Haren rarely issues walks and is a great option for the top of a rotation. He is due $15.5 million or a $3.5 million buyout. If the Angels want to make a push to re-sign the younger Greinke, Haren could be bought out and headed to free agency. He’ll look to rebuild his value at the age of 32, still young enough for a nice, long-term commitment.

7. Francisco Liriano, LHP, 10/26/1983

53-54, 4.40 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 840 IP, 846:356 K:BB

Once upon a time, Liriano was on his way to becoming the next Johan Santana. Little did we know that once Santana’s shoulder was ripping away, that Liriano would deem himself just as useless. At the age of 22, Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA. He then blew out his elbow and has gone just 40-49 with a 4.75 ERA since returning in 2008. Liriano can’t seem to throw enough strikes to be a consistent starting pitcher, but the stuff is still there, as evidenced by his 9.6 K/9 in 2012, to dominate…or continue to be a headcase.

8. Jorge De La Rosa, LHP, 4/5/1981

54-51, 4.96 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 780.1 IP, 688:383 K:BB

De La Rosa is another gamble, but he showed that he has the stuff to be a very nice mid-rotation starter before his 2011 Tommy John surgery. From 2009 until his injury in 2011, the lefty was 29-18 with a 4.18 ERA and 358:160 K:BB in 365.2 innings. De La Rosa struggled in his career prior to learning how to pitch once landing in Colorado. If he can pitch successfully there, can he do it anywhere? Owed $11 million or a $1 million buyout in 2013, De La Rosa is a great candidate to reach free agency to rebuild his career on an incentive-laden, one-year contract.

9. Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, 4/12/1981

9-5, 3.16 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 125.1 IP, 101:43 K:BB

Iwakuma is an unknown, having turned down an opportunity to sign with Oakland in 2011 before signing a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners prior to 2012. Iwakuma could bolt back to Japan or get himself a nice multi-year deal in the states after posting an 8-4 record, 2.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 16 starts for the Mariners down the stretch. He has some mileage on his arm from his days pitching in Japan, but Iwakuma is sure to make more than the $1.5 million that he earned in 2012.

10. Brandon McCarthy, RHP, 7/7/1983

37-39, 4.02 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 654.1 IP, 447:191 K:BB

I would LOVE to have this guy on my team. While there will be concerns about his abilities due to the head trauma that he suffered, and his mobility due to brain surgery, McCarthy is worth a gamble by a contender or a team in need of a top starter. While there is a great deal of risk in signing McCarthy, he has overcome odds before, returning from a broken shoulder to become one of the best pitchers in baseball. Once returning from injury, McCarthy had a new, two-seam fastball that has changed his career, ala Roy Halladay in 2001. He made 11 appearances in 2010 in the minors, signing with the Oakland A’s in 2011, and going on to post a 17-15 record, 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 281.2 innings (43 starts). If he could just stay on the mound, he would be even more respected than he already is. Here’s to a speedy recovery and a fantastic rebound for a guy who seems like a lot of fun (follow him and his wife on Twitter, they’re hilarious!).

HONORABLE MENTION: Gavin Floyd, RHP ($9.5 million team option); Carlos Villanueva, RHP; Joe Saunders, LHP; Hiroki Kuroda, RHP; Jeremy Guthrie, RHP; Carlos Zambrano, RHP; Kevin Correia, RHP;

Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…Yankees Stink!

Sure, they made it to the ALCS, but what is the deal with the New York Yankees? For the millions upon millions of dollars that they are paying their superstars, the team has scored just 13 runs since scoring seven in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles. They’ve played six games since then!

If you take away Jose Valverde‘s total implosion in the ninth inning on Saturday night, the Yankees have scored ZERO runs on 11 hits in the remaining 20 innings in the ALCS against the Tigers. The Yankees are hitting just .200 in 50 at-bats with runners in scoring position during the playoffs, including .167 in 18 at-bats against the Detroit Tigers.

While Alex Rodriguez is getting a lot of the negative publicity for the Yankees struggles offensively, he is not alone. Along with Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano, ARod is  just a part of the larger problem. The three stars have combined to hit just .099/.161/.160 in 81 at-bats, with two doubles, one home run, five RBI and 30 strikeouts. The three are 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position (.111) with three RBI, all from Cano.

With Derek Jeter‘s devastating ankle injury, can Raul Ibanez carry this team? He has to this point, hitting a robust .438/.550/1.063 in just 16 at-bats, smashing three home runs and saving the Yankees against the Orioles in Game 4 of the ALDS, while helping extend the Game 1 loss to the Tigers on Saturday night. Mark Teixeira has walked seven times this postseason, while posting a .320/.469/.360 line, so will opposing pitchers continue to pitch around him and take their chances on the other struggling Yanks?

With so many Yankees possessing a great amount of postseason experience, the struggles that have been ongoing are quite worrisome for Yankee fans. The bigger question is, can ESPN sleep at night without their moneymakers giving them much to talk about? No worries…Tebow threw a pass on Sunday and actually got a first down. Gotta love New York!

Elimination: Unable to Hide the Homer

Just one…You couldn’t win…ONE!?!

On Sunday night, I was excited. The Cincinnati Reds had won Game 2 of the NLDS series, winning both games in San Francisco. Heading home for three games, it was a cinch that they would clinch…or so I thought.

I write for Bleacher Report when I’m not writing here, and I was given the assignment of completing a live blog for Game 3 between the Reds and Giants. It was a fantastic game, dominated by pitching, especially Reds (ace?) Homer Bailey, but when third baseman Scott Rolen bobbled the grounder in the 10th inning, it was the beginning of the end. We all know now that the Reds would lose on Wednesday and Thursday at Great American Ballpark, crushing the dreams that came along with a fantastic season.

The Reds won 97 games in 2012. They had not won that many games since winning 108 games in 1975 and 102 games in 1976, also known as the greatest team ever, The Big Red Machine. Why shouldn’t hopes have been high for this team?

As a baseball fanatic, I have a hard time rooting for a specific team. I have a tendency to root for specific players, as long as they aren’t on the St. Louis Cardinals. I like to think of myself as a baseball connoisseur, finding and appreciating the talent of the era, while hoping that the underdog finds a way to win the title, as long as the underdog isn’t the St. Louis Cardinals.

However, the Reds elimination hurt me to the core. It was worse than being told my those you love that you’ve disappointed them. It was worse than the club missing the playoffs last year, or losing decisively to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. This was catastrophic.

While I wrote for Bleacher Report as their Featured Columnist for the Cleveland Indians this season, I saw just how awful their fans have it. I was 9 years old when the Reds went wire-to-wire in 1990, winning the only title worth mentioning for a Cincinnati team in my lifetime (sorry ECHL/IHL Cyclones, you don’t count). The first game I can remember was the Reds 11-2 win over the New York Mets on July 19, 1988. Jose Rijo dazzled and even hit a home run off of Dwight Gooden that night. I was 7 years old.

I remember Paul O’Neil robbing home runs in right field, Eric Davis hitting for amazing power with incredible speed, and Deion Sanders making Davis look slow, flying around the bases. I remember the end of Dave Concepcion’s Hall of Fame worthy career, Chris Sabo and his awesome RecSpecs, and Barry Larkin’s entire, underappreciated career. All of those memories, all of those games with my cousin where we bought “Top Six” tickets and moved all over the ballpark, and all of those years of not committing myself to the team that I grew up loving made the losses that much more difficult.

When Scott Rolen struck out on Thursday afternoon, the homer in me was crushed. I don’t remember ever rooting for the Reds as hard as I have the last three days. I was a kid again. I loved the team that I always loved again. All of the times that I just said I loved baseball and I wanted to just enjoy the game…apparently that was a lie. I wanted nothing more than to celebrate a three-run home run by Jay Bruce, or to see Scott Rolen redeem himself for his costly error in Game 3 with a game-winning walk-off homer in Game 5.

I realized that I am still the kid who loved Eric Davis, stood for Rob Dibble’s blazing fastball to close out the game, and the man who now watches the radar to see how high Aroldis Chapman can make it climb.

The postseason in Major League Baseball is incredible for so many reasons, but, today, it made me realize that I never stopped loving the team that I grew up loving. That is why elimination was absolutely heart-breaking today.

Giants AT Reds, Game 5

Game 5 of the NLDS series between the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds will take place on Thursday afternoon at 1:07 (if the Oakland A’s beat the Detroit Tigers Wednesday night) or 2:07 (if the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland A’s on Wednesday night). Kind of confusing for those who hold tickets, but this is what to expect…

Mat Latos is officially starting on Thursday for Cincinnati. Latos came in for Johnny Cueto in Game 1 due to Cueto’s oblique strain, which he suffered after tossing eight pitches. Latos tossed four innings on Saturday night, allowing one earned run (2.25 ERA), but he was not considered for the Game 4 start because: 1) Latos had never pitched on three-days rest, and 2) Latos has been battling the flu.

Matt Cain, the loser of Game 1, will take the ball for the Giants in Game 5. Cain allowed three earned runs over five innings (5.40 ERA) at AT&T Park on Saturday. The Giants were 22-10 in Cain’s 32 starts in 2012, and while Cain managed to go 16-5, he lost back-to-back decisions twice this season.

Dusty Baker will probably go back to Ryan Hanigan behind home plate and Scott Rolen at third, especially after Todd Frazier failed to impress the veteran-loving manager with his 0-for-3, one RBI performance on Wednesday.

Bruce Bochy would be wise to stick with Joaquin Arias at short and Hector Sanchez behind the plate, as their eight-run outburst in Game 4 was a far cry from the team’s performance in the first three games. Arias is 3-for-6 with two doubles and three runs, while Sanchez was 1-for-2 with two walks in Game 4, his first opportunity of the postseason.

After going 12-for-95 (.126) with four runs in the first three games, the Giants were 11-for-33 (.333) on Wednesday.

Cincinnati scored 14 runs in the first two games of the series, but have scored four runs in the last two games, while going 13-for-68 (.191) as a team.

With the potential 10:07 AM PT starting time, you have to consider how San Francisco will function. The Giants were just 32-32 in day games in 2012, while Cincinnati was 39-17.

Cincinnati fans are weary of the potential collapse after waiting nearly 17 years between postseason wins. Their dreams of watching the Reds clinch the series at home will come down to a single game, now.

San Francisco is riding high and has the momentum. Their big night could leave their fans wondering if they saved any offense for Thursday’s deciding game.

Game 5. Thursday afternoon from Great American Ballpark. The MLB postseason at its finest.

2012 MLB Awards

The Second Annual Baseball Haven “I’m Always Right Before the Media Figures It Out” Awards are officially ready, just one day after the season.  These guys may not win the awards below, but they certainly SHOULD.

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

.330/.393/.606, 109 R, 40 2B, 44 HR, 139 RBI, 4 SB

Cabrera gets the award because he won the first Triple Crown in MLB since Carl Yastrzemski won it in 1967, AND because he carried the Tigers into the postseason in September and early October, blasting 11 home runs, driving in 30 runs and posting a 1.071 OPS in 31 games. He moved to a position, third base, to accommodate the acquisition of Prince Fielder. No one ever said that he would make a difference there defensively, but his .966 fielding percentage was still better than the league average for third baseman, .952. Sure, his WAR was lower than Mike Trout, but Mike Trout is at home and Cabrera proved his worth in 2012.

Honorable Mention: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers; Robinson Cano, New York Yankees; Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers;

NL MVP: Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants

.336/.408/.549, 78 R, 39 2B, 1 3B, 24 HR, 103 RBI, 1 SB

Posey led MLB in batting average and OPS+, handling catching duties and occasionally playing first base to give his reconfigured knee together after a devastating injury in 2011. Posey’s absence from the Giants 2011 season may have had a lot to do with their inability to make the playoffs after winning the 2010 World Series over the Texas Rangers. Posey’s transformation from a collegiate shortstop to a top-level offensive catcher has gone about as smoothly as anyone could have anticipated. Even while playing in an extreme pitcher’s park, AT&T Park, Posey is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.

Honorable Mention:Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates; Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves;

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers

17-8, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 238.1 IP, 239:60 K:BB

Verlander’s statistics in 2012 were not as impressive as his totals in 2011, but that doesn’t make him any less impressive. Verlander was the lone consistent starter for most of the 2012 season for the AL Central champion Tigers, and he scored a relationship with Kate Upton on top of that. The man is just a winner. The filth that he possesses rivals only Larry Flynt.

Honorable Mention:Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels; Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners; Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays; David Price, Tampa Bay Rays;

NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

19-9, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 217 IP, 170:49 K:BB

He pitches in an awful park for pitchers, he is on one of the best teams in the National League, and he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons, so Cueto deserves this award. While he doesn’t pitch in a major market and he did have a few stretches where he seemed to “lose it”, Cueto finally tossed over 200 innings, and, after suffering through a rough spot, he dominated late in the season. If you put the ballpark factor into play here, Cueto would garner many more votes. He should win, but it is unlikely thanks to the New York bias and the cool story that comes along with R.A. Dickey.

Honorable Mention:R.A. Dickey, New York Mets; Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds;

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics and Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

Who says you can’t share an award? These two managers deserve some sort of plaque and a key from their respective city’s mayors for the work that they did this season. With the high spending Angels and Rangers out west for the A’s and the Red Sox and Yankees in the east with the O’s, the teams found creative ways to maintain a solid group of players on their rosters through trading and drafting well over the last several seasons. As both teams head into the ALDS, thanks to Friday’s victory over Texas for Baltimore, this could only be the beginning for one of these teams.

Honorable Mention:Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays; Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox;

NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

With his All-Star outfielder banned 50-games for a positive drug test, his one-time ace, Tim Lincecum, posting a 5.18 ERA over 33 starts, and injuries to Pablo Sandoval throughout the season, Bochy managed to lead the Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. While you can question him for his lack of faith in Brandon Belt during most of the season, he seemed to make the right decision more often than not with his club.

Honorable Mention:Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds; Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates; Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals;

AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

.326/.399/.564, 129 R, 27 2B, 8 3B, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB

A WAR of 10.7 in his rookie season, which led the league, shows just how special Trout is going to continue to be. Having just turned 21 years old in early August, the future is as bright as a supernova, as Trout’s power, speed, on-base skills, and fielding ability will continue to make him a perennial MVP candidate. You can certainly argue that he should win the award this season over Miguel Cabrera, but due to the Tigers landing in the playoffs and the first Triple Crown in 45 years, it has to go with the Tigers chubby third baseman.

Honorable Mention:Yeonis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics; Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers; Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles;

NL Rookie of the Year: Todd Frazier, INF/OF, Cincinnati Reds

Frazier was a monster while the Cincinnati Reds went two months without their best player, Joey Votto. He finished the 2012 season with an .829 OPS was second to Colorado catcher Wilin Rosario amongst NL rookies…I see you thought I was going to say Bryce Harper there, but he posted an .817 OPS. While Harper energized his club upon his callup and had one of the best quotes of the year (“That’s a clown question, bro), it was Frazier’s bat and versatility that helped the Cincinnati Reds win the NL Central.

Honorable Mention:Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals; Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies; Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks; Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs;

Comeback Player of the Year: Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres

2011: .289/.374/.399, 43 R, 28 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 13 SB

2012: .286/.376/.498, 95 R, 31 2B, 2 3B, 31 HR, 115 RBI, 17 SB

Petco can put bats to sleep like the vets that work out of the back of actual Petco stores can do to your pet; however, Headley was one of the few bright spots for the rebuilding San Diego Padres, delivering MVP-like numbers for the Friars. At the age of 28 and with two years of arbitration eligibility, you have to wonder if the Padres are going to trade him this offseason for more prospects, especially after his surprising season and how often Headley’s name came up at the trade deadline.

Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees;

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