Every so often, there’s a debate about who’s the best pitcher in baseball. Or, who is the best in each league, i.e. who should start the All-Star Game. Today on the old radio, there was a debate about who would you want to pitch in a one-game World Series. The debate eventually became Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum, but I can’t ever help like Timmy has a home field advantage out here in Northern California. Obviously, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game. On most occasions that I’ve seen him pitch, he’s been dominant. On the other hand, I’ve seen him look extremely mortal at times. He’s prone to the occasional blowup. Halladay, however, never seems to give up any more than 4 runs in a game – and that’s when he’s off. Granted, I probably have a bit smaller sample size when it comes to Roy, but I probably see arguably his more important games. Though I will concede that Lincecum is usually solid in the big games as well.
There’s one guy, though, that I always consider to be one of the top two pitchers in baseball that no one really ever seems to bring up until you get to the top 5 or 10. Ever since the first time I saw him pitch when
We’re still waiting for our first big free agent signing of the offseason out here in Oakland. Though the biggest move to date may be addition by subtraction, as another MLB club has finally taken Jack Cust of our hands. The A’s have been seemingly trying to get rid of Cust for a few seasons now, and today the Seattle Mariners took a chance on the slugger/walker/striker-outer. At the beginning of last season, the A’s designated Cust for assignment, hoping another team would claim him. After he cleared waivers, he reported to AAA-Sacramento until injuries on the big league roster would force him up. He played uninspired ball the rest of the season and helped the A’s to another underwhelming offensive campaign. Cust made popular the “three true outcome player.” Each of his at-bats would surely end in one of three outcomes: a home run, walk, or strikeout. Problem is, two out of every three ended in a strikeout. His homers never seem to come when they counted, and his walks were mostly the result of resting the bat on his shoulders for 6 or 7 pitches. Throw a breaking ball, and you’ll surely strike him out. I know what the Mariners were thinking, he’s a guaranteed 20 HRs a year, but does this mean they’ve been sitting there for the last three years thinking, “where can we find a left-handed Richie Sexson?” Seriously, Mariner fans, that’s what you should be thinking right now.
Cust has got to be my most loathed player on the A’s in the last decade. There aren’t many, since the A’s have a knack for having blue-collar hustle guys. Pitching, defense, and basically fundamentals reigned supreme. Cust is none of these. Instead, he occupied the fat, lazy designated hitter spot and led the league in strikeouts three consecutive years. His 197 in 2008 were particularly impressive. I won’t even get into his defensive shortcomings. The good news is this opens up a spot for a power hitter the A’s so desperately need. I share Chappy’s sentiment in that I don’t want them to break the bank on an older player who’s best days are behind them, but that may be our only option. And, if you give me a choice, I’ll take anybody over Cust. Right now it’s looking like Hideki Matsui, but I’d be happy with Doris Matsui at this point. Alright, so Cust isn’t that bad; I’m just happy for a change.
“You want to go where you’re wanted,” Cust said. “In Oakland, even though I always did pretty well there…I’m sure they’d say I struggled in spring and what I did the three years before wasn’t good enough to make that team, I guess…..When I talk about Oakland last year especially, it’s definitely not a very positive experience for me. So I’m trying to block that out a little.”
I was all fired up to write a Cahill for the AL Cy Young Award last night, but sadly he got shelled for 8 runs by the Yankees. His ERA ended up ballooning from 2.43 to 2.82 dropping him from second to third in ERA. He held the lead in WHIP with an amazing 0.99, but that ballooned to 1.07 after last night, and now he’s now second behind Cliff Lee in that department. He was going to need to lead those key categories if he was going to have any chance in winning a Cy Young. Cahill missed April with an injury, so he had some ground to make up in innings pitched to be considered. Since he doesn’t strike out a lot of guys he needed to keep that ERA and WHIP down to get any Cy Young votes. He’s about as dominating a ground ball pitcher as you can be, but voters value K’s A LOT, so falling out of the lead of those two major categories might have pushed him out of the Cy talks. Until last night, he’d lasted five or more innings, and given up seven or fewer hits in all 23 of his starts. That was broken up yesterday, but the streak was still good enough for an Oakland record, which is surprising thinking of all the pitching greats that have donned the green and gold over the years. I ended up posting Stealing First Base last night, because I was rattled by this rare ugly start for our 22 year old sensation. If he’d shut down the Yankees, there would be more optimism in his Cy Young candidacy. At this moment, I can’t really put him at the top, so I’d probably drop him down to the second tier where I have CC, Bucholtz, and Wilson. He’s got a month left to get a new streak of zeros going, but the way Felix has been firing on all cylinders he’s the man to dethrone now.
If it was decided today, I’d would crown King Felix with the AL Cy Young. He’s been phenomenal after a so-so May. If he played for any team but Seattle, he’d at least have 15 wins. If he was on the Yankees he’d probably have as many wins if not more than CC’s 18. A 10-10 record isn’t anything to write home about, but I care a lot more about the pure pitching numbers, and the 24 year old is having another great season. He’s lost a number of games where his team only scored one run for him or in some cases was completely shut out. Nothing surprising coming out of Seattle since they own the lowest total amount of runs scored in all of baseball. They can’t even score as much as Pittsburgh! Just checking out his game log, it tells the story of his lack of run support. Quality start after quality start, and nothing in the win column to show for it. Over his last 15 starts he’s pitched at least 6.2 innings, and has given up only three runs three times, and two or less runs in the other twelve starts. He’s currently second in K’s (192), second in ERA (2.47), third in WHIP (1.11), leads in IP (204.1), and is holding hitters to a .225 BA (sixth best in the AL). I’ve found myself feeling sorry for the guy. Every time he goes out there he gets the least run support of any of the candidates, and the Seattle crowd knows it, giving him standing ovations even when he leaves the game behind on the scoreboard, because they know they are watching a great pitcher that gave them everything he had. Maybe I’m picking him because I thought he deserved it last year or because he’s on one of my fantasy teams. If it weren’t for Greinke’s freakish year that made Felix an afterthought when the award was handed out, he could be going for back to back awards. Even Greinke got better run support in his Cy Young season last year than Felix has had these past two seasons. I know the award isn’t given out based on a two year period, but consistency can be taken into considered in a year that the award could go either way. Kind of like when Kobe and Barkley won their MVP awards in the NBA. Kobe wasn’t the overly obvious choice for the award, but sometimes you have to reward someone that is at the top for an extended period of time. Same went for Barkley, they might have been tired of giving it to Jordan, so they threw in a change up and gave it to the big man who finished runner up a few times. If Felix keeps doing what he’s been doing, he should win the award! Now that I’ve said all that, I bet Felix gets blown up by the Angels tonight…
I still haven’t given up on the A’s making a run at the AL West, especially when they’re opening up a three game series against a last place team who just fired their manager, and the team they’re chasing is about to run a gauntlet of the top teams in the AL East. But regardless of how that ends up panning out, tonight is an exciting occasion because it will be the major league debut of Chris Carter. You may remember Carter as the player the White Sox traded for Carlos Quentin. Or better yet, you may remember him as one of the 14 players the A’s acquired for Dan Haren. Now that Carlos Gonzalez is lighting up the NL, Carter remains as the most highly touted prospect in that deal. Brett Anderson has already established himself as a legitimate big league starter, but Carter is the one who has the most upside.
It was 339 days ago today that Chris Carter made his AAA debut. Why do I know that? Because I posted about it when it happened, so there’s proof that I was on the bandwagon a long time ago. There’s a good chance that he’ll go 0-4 with 3 Ks tonight – he’s not exactly a “for average” hitter, but the power is there. Picture a right handed Jack Cust. NO, don’t do that! Let’s let Carter create his own description, because barring any disaster, he’ll be far better than Cust ever was.
Well, I just posted about David Lee’s jump to the Warriors, so I may as well dedicate today as Lee day, and talk about the Rangers acquisition of Cliff Lee. The Rangers are already 5 1/2 games up on the competition in the standings, and the Angels continue to slide, losing four in a row, and seven of their last ten without their main man Kendry. The power in the west shifted even more today, as Texas acquired Cliff Lee from Seattle for Justin Smoak (2008 first round pick), and four other minor leaguers. The Cliff Lee sweepstakes took a surprising turn when pretty much everyone had him going to the Yankees earlier today. He instead will be heading to Texas in a deal that had to make Nolan Ryan crack a smile. It’s a good move to do it now, so they can get an extra three or four starts out of him instead of waiting all the way to the trade deadline. As a rabid A’s fan, I’m not completely against making our current division leader better, because if there was a team I wanted to win outside of the A’s, it would be the Rangers. Maybe that’s why I picked them in our predictions at the beginning of the year. Their biggest weakness was pitching, and now they have a true ace of their staff that they’ve been missing for so many years. If they get back Rich Harden from the DL after the all-star break, and he is what he used to be with Oakland, they’d have a very solid top of the rotation with Lee, Harden, and Colby Lewis. They might get rocked here and there in the home run friendly confides of Arlington during the dog days of August, but all of these guys know how to pitch when healthy. Does this make the Rangers a contender to win it all? Most would say no, and I’d agree with that, but the way their offense is set up they can beat good pitching, and now acquired one of the best pitchers in the game that will surely give them a win every fifth night. As long as Ron Washington is there, I’ll be rooting for that club to do well, and with some pitching to back up that great offense this deal couldn’t have worked out better for them. Side note, it also feels good to be a Vlad supporter again after he spent so many years on the Angels.
One of my favorite former A’s outfielders, Eric Byrnes, always came to the plate with Burn Baby Burn playing on the PA with Roy Steele announcing his name while he strolled to the plate. Looks like he’s decided to hang up the fast pitch spikes after being cut by the Mariners, and is going to join some of his buddies in some good ol’ beer drinking, and softball. Screw taking a step backwards like our good buddy Jack Cust accepting the demotion to AAA, and being pissed he has to commute. At 34 years young, Byrnes has decided to join the Menlo Park softball team sponsored by the Dutch Goose, and will be the biggest ringer in the Bay Area rec leagues, since Vernon Davis joined the curling squad. I wonder if he can convince old buddy Jermaine Dye to join the league too that would be one solid 3-4 combo in the slowpitch league. I’m also wondering if Byrnes would want to double as a security guard at the Oakland Coliseum. Back in 2005, he didn’t need a security guard with a taser to take down a fan that ran wild on the field. Instead he chased the fan down, and tackled the guy against the left field wall! I can’t find the footage, but here’s a great picture of the incident.
Said Byrnes on returning to the Bay Area to play softball: “This is going to be a blast. Playing with my buddies. I can’t wait for my first hit. I’m going to ask for the ball.” One of my favorite things about Byrnes was that he always hustled. He’d sprint to the outfield every inning, and he’d sprint to first on infield pop ups. I think his major contribution is keeping guys loose, and demonstrating how to give 110%. I do wonder if he will be Mr. Hustle when his belly is full of beer…
Byrnes wasn’t setting the MLB on fire with his .094 average over 15 games this season in Seattle, but he will still make $11M this year, thanks to that awesome deal he got from the D-Backs a few years ago! At the time it was fair market value for his services. My how times have changed, and guys like Dye are rejecting $1.5M to play. I hope he has fun, and isn’t out of my baseball for good. His personality is just too good to keep away from the game. I’m sure we will see him behind the broadcast desk throwing some goofy analysis out there. I see him as the Charles Barkley type, funny, but never loses his true opinion on the subject.
I can’t lie, I’ve always liked following Bradley and his antics, they seem so stupid yet so entertaining at the same time. Like I said before I will always be grateful for his run with the A’s, and how he WAS pretty much their entire offense and got them ALCS in 2006. Anyways, his recent comments are just another sign that he is overly emotional, and caught up in his own little version of Alice and Wonderland. Everything he’s fried for in the media, he brought on himself. He’s the anti-Tiger, and plain doesn’t think about what he’s saying before he talks. In his most recent comments that has caused a mini uproar in the baseball world he compared himself to bad boys of different industries saying,
“If I was a musician I’d be Kanye West. If I was a basketball player, I’d be Ron Artest. In baseball, they have me, Milton Bradley.I’m that guy. You need people like me, so you can point your finger and go, ‘There goes the bad guy..”
Looks like it would be fun to shop with Milton...
I’d lean more towards the Artest comparison, because he is flat out crazy. He pretty much called out all of Chicago when he was leaving, which I’m sure hit hard with Dyslexic. He almost sounded like he wanted to fight all of Chicago on his way out.
Anyways, Kayne was the best uhhh, Kayne of all time. Rodman was probably the best Artest of the NBA. If he had jumped in the crowd in LA and started punching that fan that threw a water bottle at him he’d be comparable to Artest. Scarface was the best Cocaine dealer of all time, so Al Pacino should be the only one that can quote Scarface. I don’t think he has enough on his record yet to live up to those comparisons. Sure he’s hated, but he’s going to have to take it to the next level somehow to earn the title he dubbed himself. Maybe if he grows a pair of red horns, and appears on the cover of SI this year he could be comparable to Kanye.
I guess it might be a stretch, since none of the four teams residing in the AL West are truly considered a threat to knock the Yankees off their thrown, but is there really anyone that looks like they can derail the Yankees besides injuries? I don’t think so… Can you name the only division that had three teams finish the season with 85 wins? Surprisingly, it’s the AL West! Sure you can argue that the AL East had three 84 win teams, but the basement is a lot worse than it is in the West.
The Yankees have pushed over the $1 billion mark in payroll a long time ago, and the Red Sox aren’t all that far behind, so we’ve been trained to see the East as far superior. Surprisingly the AL West had a great record versus the East going 95-79 in 2009. I think the best team in the West (Angels) regressed a little over the off-season losing their horse/ace in Lackey, and their versatile infielder Figgins, and that has put the division up for grabs.
I felt that Seattle made the biggest push to be a force in the west by trading for a bonafied yearly Cy Young contender, Cliff Lee, and last year’s runner up Felix Hernandez was already there setting up one of the deadliest duos in the league. They also stole Figgins away from the Angels, which should get them two guys on base if Ichiro and Figgy are hitting one and two. Milton might be able to knock them in if he’s on the field for more than 80 games, but that’s a big IF.
The Rangers bolstered their roster, but there are question marks already on the health of the players they signed. Vlad seems past his prime, but if he can be productive anywhere, it’s going to be in Arlington where careers being revived happens. They also signed the often injured Rich Harden, which could be a boost if they have a plan b for all the starts he gets scratched from each year. They were in the race for the West crown up to the last couple weeks, and have a ton of young talent that will only be better this coming season. It seems like a lot of the experts are picking them to win the west this year, but those predictions don’t seem to have much confidence behind them.
I’ll do my A’s preview a little closer to the season when I’ve gathered all my expectations of them, but honestly, all I’m hoping for from them is to stay healthy for once. We’ve used the DL more over the past two years than anytime in franchise history, and broke records two straight years in a row for DL usage. Not a good stat for a young team trying to figure out what pieces go where, and far from a recipe for success! Not sure about the offense, but the pitchers must be happy to have a true ace on the staff in Sheets. They owned a better run differential than Seattle last year, so there’s some hope!
All in all, I’d say the top teams of the AL West aren’t as good as the AL East. From top to bottom though, the West has teams that will be able to pull out wins night in and night out. You know you aren’t getting that from Toronto or Baltimore, who have both probably already given up on this year. I’d say that one distinct advantage that the West has over the East is in the farm systems. The East gets better through buying free agents that most of the time we can’t afford, and the West gets better by building up their prospects from within. I’m pretty pumped to see how it all shakes out, and one thing is for sure, the West is up for grabs this year with none of the teams completely out of the picture. Can’t say the same for the AL East.
What really defines the best division in baseball? The degree of difficulty? The balance from top to bottom? General intrigue?
Maybe I’ve been worn down from all the northeastern hype, and the YES network, but I believe there’s a solid argument that the west is the “best” division in baseball!
It’s no secret who my teams are. I’m pretty much a homer when it comes to sports. If you’re wondering who my team is in any given sport, just find the team located in Northern California and you’ve got it. Oakland A’s, Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders, Sacramento Kings, San Francisco 49ers, and if you have to find a hockey team, the San Jose Sharks. Every once in a while, though, there’s an out of market team that captures my attention. Often times it’s because of a player I like. Other times it’s because I’m a habitual underdog supporter, and there’s actually a team out there worse than mine. Here’s who they are, how they fared, why I liked them, and who I liked on the team….
#10 – 2000 Cincinnati Bengals
Season Outcome: 4-12, 5th in AFC Central
Who I Liked: Corey Dillon, Peter Warrick, Takeo Spikes
Why I Liked Them: This team sort of tricked me. I had flirted with Bengals fandom for a few seasons, mainly on the strength of receivers, Carl Pickens and Darnay Scott. 2000, however, was the year I finally traveled down striped road and jump on the Bengal bandwagon, if there is such a thing. The problem was, Pickens and Scott were gone, and Akili Smith had assumed full time QB duties. What was left was 1,400 rushing yards for Corey Dillon, and Peter Warrick leading the receiving core with an underwhelming 52 catches and 4 TDs. I almost bought a Peter Warrick jersey one day at the San Francisco City Center early that season. Good thing I didn’t, that’d be the second worst jersey in my closet right now.
Bradley's world has always been a little upside down...
I’m not sure what it is about athletes getting sued or getting in trouble that is so fascinating to me, but alas, I give you the most recent case against one of the most hated players in baseball, Milton Bradley. He is being sued by his landlord in Chicago for $44K in back rent, fees, and interest. I truly CAN understand why people hate Bradley so much, because he has the skill set to be a force in baseball, but he never really lives up to that potential as he sits out from hangnail type injuries throughout each season, and causes rifts in the clubhouse more often than not. His personality is emotional to say the least, and that sensitivity has made the media get on him that much more! I can’t defend most of his tirades, but I’m still grateful for his stint with the A’s. He single-handedly carried our offense to the ALCS in 2006. Unfortunately, he won’t be remembered for his on-field contributions, and more for his dynamic personality off the field. To beat the dead horse, at the end of the article I found a statement I thought was pretty funny,
Bradley — who said during his time in Chicago that writers, fans and even waiters didn’t like him
Sounds like a pretty open and shut case to me. If you sign a lease and don’t pay it, you might find yourself getting sued. I’d expect that if I decided to stop paying rent! I’m guessing the landlord is probably a Cubs fan and has close to the same amount of hate towards him as the rest of the city does. I’d wish him luck, but I think he probably needs a shrink to figure out why so many people hate him. I hope he does good in Seattle, as long as it’s not against the A’s!
I don't like the Yankees, the Sox's, or big John Lackey, but I'm fully rooting for Lackey to throw some punches in one of their heated divisional games!
The Red Sox picked up John Lackey Monday, which was a solid move. I really like waving goodbye to Lackey from the AL West that is, he seemed to dominate the A’s every time he took the mound. Boston also made one other surprising signing as well. No, not Jason Bay. Matt Holliday?!? Nope, it looks like they are picking up Mike Cameron. Really!?! Interesting move Theo… I guess it’s a defensive upgrade getting a 3-time Gold Glover. Cameron has some power, and he is cheaper than the two mentioned guys. We’ll see how it pans out. I guess he could be a Johnny Damon type guy for them who has been known to be a good mentor and clubhouse guy. I just don’t see how it helps them compete with the Yankees, but oh well, I don’t really like them anyways. Another move that I saw, was the Red Sox offered Chapman a contract for $15.5 million! Ladies and gentlemen strap in for the next relevant Chapman!
The other shocking moves made Monday was the trade that sends Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and Cliff Lee is going to Seattle. I don’t really understand why they wanted to give up prospects, when they could just turn around and sign Lee keeping the prized youth, but if they sign Halladay to a long extension it might be worth it. I could really care less about Halladay landing in Philly, the main reason stems from me not really caring about the NL all that much. I’m just worried the A’s will now have to face Lee now five times a year. In the end, I’m really curious to see how Phillies top prospects pan out, they’ve had a good run of home grown talent over the last few years, so I’m sure whatever they gave up to make Toronto happy, must have been worth it!
In A’s news, we let go of JacKKK Cust, and inconsistent, wrongfully named, Santiago Casilla. I see this as an addition by subtraction. Our defense just improved by not having to ever put Cust in the field again. He makes a little leaguer trying to catch a ball during the home run derby look like a all-star out there. He also clogs up the bases with his slow station to station movements, and kept speedy guys from moving around the bases at times. This team is moving into a speed era it appears, and Cust doesn’t suit that. All in all, it’s been a crazy day for the MLB off-season!
So the winter meetings are over, and there were two teams that made a few noteworthy moves in the AL West. Chone Figgins signed with the Mariners. Interesting move, now they have one of the best leadoff duos you could possibly have pairing Figgy with Ichiro. Maybe they’ll set some kind of record for double steals, or not, since Ichiro seems to be stealing a little less than he once did. They were reportedly thinking of re-signing Adrian Beltre, which sounds like a retarded idea, and would put a black hole in the lineup right after two on-base guys. The only way this deal will make them better is if they get some consistent power behind the two. Maybe Lopez will have a huge year and they could put him higher in the order. Maybe Griffey can have one last magic season for them, but looking at his stats from last year, I don’t see that being very likely… Side note, I am happy to see that he is going to play one more year, good for him! He’s the anti-Bonds, and it’s good to see he can still get some work past his prime.
The Rangers also made a couple moves signing one of my favorite love/hate players on the A’s over the past decade in Rich Harden. I love the way the guy pitches, and he CAN pitch, even Nolan Ryan is impressed by the guy, but hate how he is never healthy enough to pitch more than 100 or so innings. Supposedly he’s trying to make it to 200 innings to get a bunch of incentive money, but I’ll believe that when I see it! Dealing away Kevin Millwood’s elephant contract should allow them to sign a couple of guys at a much better price. Sounds like they have an interest in Mike Lowell as well. The Rangers weren’t bad last year, they just fell apart in the end with a mix of injuries and bad play.
Somewhere in the late 80s I took a liking to the Seattle Mariners. I know what you’re thinking…. Oh, I bet it was 1989 when Ken Griffey Jr. joined the team. Not so fast, though, random forgotten baseball fan. My Mariners fandom came to be somewhere around 1987 or 1988. But I’m a lifelong A’s fan, how could I root for a division rival? Well, it’s simple see… I’m a fan of underdogs. In those rare cases where my team is actually good, (see 1988-1990 A’s, 1994 49ers, and 2000-2002 Kings) I’ll sometimes start rooting for a less competitive team. I won’t stop rooting for my own team, it’s just something else to root for to stay grounded, if you will. Well, the 1987-1988 Mariners were that team for me in those days. I believe it started with my admiration for Harold Reynolds, who could’ve had a solid career as an RFP if it weren’t for his later endeavor into the TV world at ESPN. Nonetheless, he was one of the best “average” second basemen of the times, and being a middle infielder myself, those were the players I looked up to. Naturally, I rooted for Reynolds’ double play partner as well. That guy was none other than Rey Quiñones.
Quiñones was acquired by the Mariners from the Red Sox for Dave Henderson, among others, and was really only the starting SS for those two seasons in Seattle. His power numbers were basically identical (12 HRs and 56 and 52 RBI, respectively), but his average dipped from .276 to .248 in ’88. After playing just 7 games and going 2 for 19, the Mariners traded him to Pittsburgh, where he would finish his last season in the major leagues with a lowly .209 batting average.
Quiñones compiled a lifetime average of .243 with 29 HR and 159 RBI in 1,668 plate appearances over his 4 year career.
If this ends up being the final season for the Kid, it will be the same way many stars end their careers, on the down slide. Junior returned to Seattle in hopes of regaining that effortless swing that bashed back to back 56 home run seasons in 97 and 98, and consistently played gold glove defense robbing homers regularly, but that wasn’t meant to be in this chapter of his career. Junior is hitting .221 with 14 homers and 43 RBI’s in his return season to the great northwest. His smile is still the same, and his body looks relatively the same, except maybe a extra spare tire around his gut that he didn’t have in his first tour with Seattle. He was my favorite non-A’s player growing up, and you couldn’t ask for a better role model. He showed us how dominating a game can be made to look easy from defense to that perfectly smooth swing.
If this is in fact his final season, why isn’t there more chatter about him? I find it odder than Rafael Nadal’s freakishly smaller right arm that Griffey, one of baseball’s golden boys in the steroid era, isn’t being paraded around like a hero during his last tour of duty. He is Pujols clean from a PED standpoint, so shouldn’t the MLB be kicking up a mini campaign to celebrate his career as it comes to a close. It’s not like he’s going to be like Barry Bonds, and be able to play three more seasons averaging 45 home runs a season. Which is a shame since we all were so sure he’d be past the all time and season home run records by now. I wouldn’t blame him if he wanted to continue to play as all stars like to hang on, unless you’re weird like Barry Sanders. His return to Seattle mirrored many stars that are past their prime trying to hang on. It may not have looked good numbers wise for The Kid this year, but Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times really believes his time there this year has been worthwhile. It’s good to see a player end their career where it started, even if he never had the chance to play in a world series. He’s going out like Hank Aaron going back to Milwakee and Willie Mays going back to New York. He is undeniably a first ballot hall of famer with his 625 home runs (and counting). It’s a shame, that not even The Kid can fight off the old age…
On the heels of Chappy’s MVP predictions, I figured there’s no reason not to start talking about the Cy Young races. Today, we’ll start with the American League, where I’ve narrowed it down to six guys. I had my list at seven, but after comparing the numbers, it was obvious that Edwin Jackson simply didn’t belong. There were others you could make a case for as well, such as Jarrod Washburn and Mark Buehrle, but ultimately, they wouldn’t have a chance to win it, so for that reason, we’ll leave them out. So, without further ado, I’m envisioning the award coming down to this group: CC Sabathia, Josh Beckett, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, and Felix Hernandez. Fortunately, the Cy Young Award seems to place less emphasis on the team’s win-loss record than, say, the MVP award. So, you could still argue that Halladay, Greinke, and King Felix are at a disadvantage, but I don’t think at this point it takes them out of the running.
Rather than making a case for each guy, I’m going to cut right to the chase. I put these 6 guys side-by-side (by side by side by side by side) and one player stood out: Roy Halladay. See for yourself. If you asked me who I thought the frontrunner was, I would’ve said Josh Beckett or Justin Verlander. Given Sabathia’s well-documented success in the month of August, I’d have given him the inside track to make a late charge. I also would’ve thought that Zack Greinke’s dropoff since his outstanding start to the season would have taken him out of the running, but he still has very solid numbers. His 2.33 ERA is still the best in the league. So, if he were to regain his form, his final numbers might end up too good to ignore.
For now, though, it’s Roy Halladay who deserves the honor. Part of me thinks he might get overlooked because he’s won the award in the past, but that was six years ago. His 13-5 record is pretty remarkable when you consider he’s playing for a team that’s 8 games under .500. It’s too bad he didn’t get the opportunity to pitch for a contender on a bigger stage down the stretch run of the season. Nonetheless, if he keeps up what he’s doing, it would be a disgrace to give it to anyone else. He’s easily the most consistent and dependable of the group. All five of the other pitchers have been prone to blowups. Halladay’s worst outing, numbers-wise, came two weeks ago against the Yankees, where he gave up 5 ER on 9 H in 7 innings pitched. If that’s the WORST start you have all year, you take it in a heartbeat. On top of that, Doc basically ranks in the top two in this group in each relevant category. His 2.65 ERA is second only to Greinke’s. His 173 IP is only short of Sabathia’s 178.2. His 13 wins is only one less than Beckett and Verlander’s 14. Most impressive, his WHIP (1.08) and walks (21) are far better than anyone else’s. The only knock on Halladay’s numbers are the number of hits he’s given up and the low strikeout total – however, he’s right on par with Beckett and Sabathia in that department. As for the hits, it should be noted that Halladay gave up a league-high 253 during his 2003 Cy Young campaign. The key for him is damage control. His strikeouts are limited because he excels at going deep into games. He has 45 career complete games, only 7 less than the other five guys combined. There’s no harm in giving up hits if they don’t score.
I hope this all makes it as clear as it is to me. Like I said, I would’ve never put Halladay in the running before I dove into the numbers. Obviously, there’s plenty of baseball to be played, but for now, the Cy Young trophy should be in the Doctor’s waiting room.