This season has gotten off to an auspicious start for a couple of Opening Day starters in the AL West.
Jered Weaver went on the DL with a broken bone in his non-pitching elbow. He has been put on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. Although he has only missed two starts to this point the Angels have missed his presence on the field.
Matt Harrison was also placed on the DL with back stiffness that had been bothering him for a few weeks. The Rangers have now released a statement that he will undergo surgery on a herniated disk that will keep on the DL until at least after the All-Star Break.
Also throw in Yoenis Cespedes from the Athletics and this season hasn’t been friendly to some of their teams most important players.
-Brian Boynton (@gingabeard_man)
The Texas Rangers recently signed Matt Harrison to a five-year extension, worth $55 million, keeping the All Star left hander in Arlington through 2018. The first two years of the contract, which buy out his remaining years of arbitration, will net Harrison $13 million combined. While the final three years of the contract will earn him $13 million a season.
Harrison, 27, led the team in wins last season at 18. He has proved he can stay healthy and consistent which has plagued many of his teammates in the rotation. Over the last two seasons he has pitched nearly 400 innings, setting a career high in 2012 with 213 1/3 innings, with a 3.34 ERA.
The Rangers now have a core rotation with ages of 27 (Harrison), 29 (Ogando), 26 (Darvish), 26 (Holland). Three of which are signed through 2016.
Last offseason the Rangers won the bidding rights for 25-year-old right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish who they then signed for 6 years. Then right before the start of last season they agreed to a five-year contract extension with left hander Derek Holland who was slated to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
The Rangers have had an extremely hard time of bringing in free agent pitchers in the past and locking up their younger pitchers has been of extreme importance in recent years. So having Darvish, Harrison, and Holland locked up through what should be the prime of their careers should lead to rotation stability for the next few seasons.
I’m not saying that all or any of these guys will be in the rotation in 2016 but having that much stability is something this franchise has been desperately missing for many years. Knowing what their rotation has for the next few seasons affords this team much more flexibility than it has previously had.
A lot of players on this team are the same guys who came within one strike, TWICE, of winning the World Series. So locking up as many of these young players should be the franchises first priority. Next that needs to be signed is Elvis Andrus.
It’s been a season for the ages, what with three perfect games (so far), five no-hitters, Mike Trout, a four-homer game, two cycles in one week, Mike Trout, crazy trades, Chipper’s farewell, and of course, Mike Trout.
But the ultimate pinnacle of 2012 will occur around Halloween hangover time, when an official World Series champion will be crowned. Shortly thereafter, we find out who a bunch of writers think were the best hitters, pitchers, rookies and managers in baseball this season.
And we all know who the big candidates are: Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Justin Verlander, Buck Showalter, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Davey Johnson, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout and Mike Trout.
Did I mention Mike Trout might win every award ever created for 2012?
Here’s how I expect it to go when the final tally comes across:
American League: Trout (MVP/Rookie of the Year), Felix Hernandez (Cy Young), Showalter (Manager of the Year)
National League: McCutchen (MVP), Wade Miley (Rookie of the Year), R.A. Dickey (Cy Young), Johnson (Manager of the Year)
Womp, womp. That’s fun. But how about the dark horse candidates in each league for each of these awards? The guys like “Brendan Conlon” (Joel Edgerton) from the movie Warrior (Side bar: if you haven’t seen it, go. Leave this blog immediately and Red Box that sh*taki right now.), who are up against all odds and turn in an incredible performance to take home the hardware? Someone you would never expect to have a chance?
Here is my list of three dark horse candidates for each major award in each league for the 2012 MLB season:
Leading candidates: Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano, Paul Konerko
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: Arguably the best story in all of baseball this season has been the resurgence of the Orioles. The catalyst in the offense is All-Star center fielder Jones. His slash line in 2012: .290/24/65/12 SB
Josh Willingham, OF, Twins: Normally I shy away from great players on losing teams (sorry, Edwin Encarnacion), but I can’t ignore what Willingham has brought to the Twins. This season: .258/31/91/.900 OPS
A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox: An unlikely first place team led by an unlikely season from their catcher. Sure, Paul Konerko is pitching in, but look at the damage A.J. has inflicted on opposing pitchers: .293/23/70/.877 OPS
A.L. Cy Young:
Leading candidates: Verlander, Hernandez, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, David Price
Jake Peavy, White Sox: He is only 9-9, but records really are out of a pitcher’s control. His peripherals are really good. And did I mention the White Sox are potentially playoff bound? Peavy’s numbers: 9-9/3.09/155/1.08
Matt Harrison, Rangers: Shame on you for not recognizing Harrison’s dominance. On one of the best teams in baseball, he’s been their most consistent starter, low strikeout numbers be damned: 15-7/3.04/101/1.22
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees: A big free agent signing for the Yankees has been fantastic this season in maintaining some sense of sanity in the messed up world that is the Bombers’ rotation: 12-9/2.98/131/1.10
A.L. Rookie of the Year:
Leading candidates: Trout, Yu Darvish, Brett Lawrie, Will Middlebrooks, Yoenis Cespedes, Jesus Montero
Quintin Berry, OF, Tigers: Berry came up as an injury replacement and forced his way into the everyday lineup. Average, speed, a little pop and great defense? What more could you ask for? His line: .272/2/24/17 SB (in 17 tries)
Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners: Mark my words – the Mariners are really heading in the right direction. One of the offensive cornerstones they will build around is this guy. Could be a big power hitter soon: .252/15/73/.725 OPS
Tommy Milone, SP, Athletics: Untouchable at home, but has had his share of growing pains. That being said, Milone looks like he has the potential to develop into a very special starter: 10-9/3.87/112/1.19
A.L. Manager of the Year:
Leading candidates: Showalter, Robin Ventura, Ron Washington, Joe Girardi, Jim Leyland
Bob Melvin, Athletics: Maybe he should have been considered a “leading candidate.” But he manages an Oakland ball club that has to have a movie made about them to get national attention. His team is 69-57. I honestly expected 100 losses.
Joe Maddon, Rays: A contender every year it seems, Maddon might not get a ton of recognition this year because people are used to him being a great manager. But the Rays are leading the Wild Card despite losing Evan Longoria to injury for most of the season.
Eric Wedge, Mariners: Again, props where props are due, people! Wedge has turned this exceptionally young, raw M’s team into a force to be reckoned with. With such a baby-faced team, they are only 5 games under .500, 8.5 back in the Wild Card.
Leading candidates: McCutchen, Buster Posey, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun, David Wright, Carlos Ruiz
Angel Pagan, OF, Giants: The Braves finally figured out how to tame the wild beast that was Angel Pagan yesterday, but before that he was hitting over .500 in his previous week’s worth of games. With Melky Cabrera suspended, Pagan could steal a potential MVP award from his teammate Posey if the Giants make the playoffs: .292/7/48/21 SB
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves: Speaking of the Braves, how about the ridiculous season Heyward is having? I guess the sophomore slump is real, because J-Hey is back going Yicketty and Mammo all day in a solid third season: .278/23/68/18 (please don’t remind me he’s 7 months younger than me…it hurts)
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals: Teammates Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are stealing the thunder in St. Louis these days, but I bet if you polled the clubhouse, Yadi would be the team MVP. If the Cards make another miracle run to the playoffs, this award could be his: .326/17/61/11 SB/.892 OPS (and we know about the defense)
N.L. Cy Young:
Leading candidates: Dickey, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, A.J. Burnett, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel
Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals: I’m a little bit offended that Zim’s fantastic season is going under the radar. Sure he’s overshadowed by two of his own teammates, but check this line: 9-7/2.48/119/1.11
Ryan Vogelsong, Giants: Speaking of being overshadowed by two of his teammates, Vogelsong is quietly having a career year. His peripheral stats are off the charts in 2012: 11-7/2.90/122/1.19
Kyle Lohse, Cardinals: Speaking of being over…wait. You mean to tell me KYLE LOHSE has been the best pitcher for the Cardinals this year? Undoubtedly, this has been the most anonymous Cy campaign of 2012: 13-2/2.61/104/1.08
N.L. Rookie of the Year:
Leading candidates: Miley, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rizzo, Zack Cozart, Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Wilin Rosario
Mike Fiers, SP, Brewers: KP can attest to how incredibly good Fiers has been this year. When he shut down the Dodgers earlier this season I thought it was a fluke. His numbers in 2012 would beg to differ: 7-6/2.98/96/1.13
Norichika Aoki, OF, Brewers: Okay, maybe now I’m just sucking up to KP. Just kidding – there was no way to avoid putting Aoki on here with the type of spark he’s been for Milwaukee: .279/6/30/19 SB
Steve Lombardozzi, OF, Nationals: I went back and forth here between Lombardozzi, who has been just as good, if not better than his teammate Harper, and Colorado infielder Jordan Pacheco. Lombo gets the nod: .281/2/23/hitting leadoff for a 1st-place team
N.L. Manager of the Year:
Bud Black, Padres: “What! The Padres suck this year!” Au contraire, monsieur (for you who are Frenchly challenged, I believe that translates to YOU ARE WRONG, DUMMY)! How about 28-20 since the All-Star Break with a roster of nobodies?
Mike Matheny, Cardinals: Another guy not getting much credit for keeping his team in an extremely tough race is Matheny. He’s in his first year managing, has dealt with a plethora of injuries and the loss of Pujols. Still, the Cards are in line to win a Wild Card berth.
Terry Collins, Mets: I know the Mets are out of it, but is it still not an admirable job that Collins has done in the Big Apple? Besides David Wright and R.A. Dickey, the man has nothing to work with, yet the Mets were still a contender into mid-July.
*All statistics current as of start of play on Sunday, August 26th, 2012*
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
It’s over. Thank the good baseball lords above, it is finally over. The deadline and the bad-for-blood-pressure rumors that go with it is finished for now, and the Ryan Dempster saga, most importantly, has come to a close.
And he ended up with one of Three Up, Three Down’s favorite teams – though not exactly the one you might have expected. After flirting with Mapes’ Braves and having a steamy public relationship with my Dodgers, it’s Brian’s Texas Rangers that swooped in at the last minute to steal Dempster away.
Let’s break down the trade:
SP – Ryan Dempster
3B – Christian Villanueva (Single-A)
SP – Kyle Hendricks (Single-A)
Wait…that’s it? After all that back-and-forth between the Dodgers, the demands to only go to certain teams, the reportedly super-high asking price…and all it took was two high-potential Single-A prospects?
Theo Epstein must have really wanted to get rid of Dempster, who expanded his one-team list of acceptable teams to three (added the Yankees to the list as well) in the last half hour before the deadline. This doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice for a Rangers team that is now absolutely loaded with starting pitching to go along with a ferocious offense.
That offense is one of the reasons a young, power-hitting corner infielder like Villanueva was expendable. And Hendricks has some good potential as well, but you never know with pitchers.
Never fear, Cubs fans. You didn’t strike out completely. First of all, Dempster had to go somewhere. He wasn’t going to re-sign long term after the season, and at least the Cubs reeled in two pretty good prospects for him now, instead of nothing later.
I think the winner of this trade is pretty obvious. The Rangers now have Dempster, to go along with fellow rental Roy Oswalt, Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, and about 83 other above average starters in a rotation that was sorely lacking depth and experience in their previous two World Series runs.
If Texas returns to the Fall Classic for the third straight year, they are now in much better position to actually bring home the title. You have to think that facing a top three of Harrison, Dempster and Oswalt would be about as pleasant as hugging a porcupine for opposing offenses.
Stupid analogies aside, the Cubs strengthened an already-loaded farm system even further with these two guys. You have to like that Epstein is finally doing what previous front office regimes wouldn’t, and completely overhaul to rebuild for a few years down the road.
Fans of both of these teams have suffered long enough. The Rangers now look poised to head into the postseason as prohibitive title favorites (again, just stronger this time), and the Cubs might field a surprisingly competitive team by 2015.
All in all, a trade that had to happen, finally happened. The Rangers got the arm they needed, the Cubs unloaded Dempster and brought in more young talent. So how do you see the trade? Vote in the polls below and grade that trade!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
I would like to go on record by saying that I do not wish this torment on anybody. But, I have successfully eaten the Boomstick.
If you don’t know what the Boomstick is, where have you been?
It is two feet of hot dog smothered in chili, cheese, onions and jalapenos. It is the most deliciously awful thing I have ever eaten:
If you are able to finish this beast they will give you a t-shirt which is the main reason I forced myself to eat it.
I arrived at the game a little late so I started eating just before the first pitch. I had it down by the end of the second inning Sunday. I wish I would have realized there was some skill to being able to finish when I started.
I destroyed the first foot and a half in about ten minutes and then hit the wall. I had to change my eating habits in order to finish it. It’s a secret I can’t reveal as you all must find your own route to victory.
The highlight of my Sunday was not the six shutout innings that Matt Harrison threw or the MVP caliber game that Josh Hamilton had. It was in fact the moment when my shirt was brought out to me. I have never been more disgusted and proud of myself as I was in that moment.
If you think you can handle it, go check out a game in Arlington, TX.
– Brian Boynton (@Rangerfanbrian)