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The Phils end their 10-game road trip with a 6-4 record as they take two from the D-backs, winning by the scores of 6-5 and 2-0.

Cody AscheThe Phils leave the west with a 6-4 road record as they take the final two games from the D-backs, winning by 6-5 and 2-0.

On Saturday night, the D-backs took the lead in the bottom of the first as, with a runner on third, and with one man out, Paul Goldschmidt hits a sacrifice fly, knowing in A.J. Pollock, who had started the inning off with a single, then get picked off first base by pitcher Cliff Lee, but would end up being safe at second base on shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ missed catch error, then stopped at third base on Martin Prado’s ground out, 4-3, giving the D-backs a 1-0 lead. The D-backs added to their lead three batters later as, with two men on, via two straight singles by Miguel Montero and Aaron Hill, with Montero stopping at second base, and with two men out, Cody Ross hits an RBI single, scoring Montero, giving the D-backs a 2-0 lead, while moving Hill up to second base. The D-backs increased their lead in the bottom of the second as, with a runner on second, and with one man out, Pollock hits an RBI triple, knocking in Chris Owings, who had started the inning off with a single, then moved up to second base on Bronson Arroyo’s sacrifice bunt, 1-4, giving the D-backs a 3-0 lead. The D-backs tired to make it a 4-0 lead as, with Pollock still on third, and with the Phils’ infield drawn in, Prado hits a sharp ground ball to shortstop Rollins, who threw home, cutting down Pollock for the second out of the inning on a fielder’s choice force out, as Prado reached first base safely. The D-backs added to their lead in the bottom of the third as, with runners on second and third, and with one man out, Ross hits a two-run single, knocking in Goldschmidt, who had started the inning off with a walk, then stopped at third base on Hill’s double, and Hill, who had just doubled, making it a 5-0 D-backs’ lead. The Phils got a run back in the top of the seventh as, with a man on second, and with one man out, pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn, Jr. hits an RBI double, knocking in Carlos Ruiz, who had earlier singled, then moved up to second base on Freddy Galvis’ ground out, 3-4-3, making it a 5-1 D-backs’ lead. The Phils then made it a 5-2 D-backs’ lead two batters later, after Gwynn had moved up to third base on Ben Revere’s single, before he had moved up to second base on left fielder Ross’ throwing error, putting runners on second and third, and with still one man out, as Rollins hits an RBI ground out, 4-3, knocking in Gwynn, while moving Revere up to third base. The Phils would make it a 5-3 D-backs’ lead in the top of the eighth as, with the bases loaded, via third baseman Prado’s fielding error of Ryan Howard’s grounder, a walk to Marlon Byrd, moving Howard up to second base, and a single by Dom Brown, moving both runners up a base, and with nobody out, Ruiz hits an RBI single, scoring Howard, while moving both Byrd and Brown up a base, leaving the bases loaded. The Phils would tie the game up at five-all two batters later as pitch hitter Cody Asche hits a two-run double, knocking in Byrd and Brown, while sending Ruiz up to third base. The Phils then took the lead as Revere hits an RBI single, knocking in Ruiz, giving the Phils a 6-5 lead, while sending Asche up to third base. That would end up being the final score as Jonathan Papelbon recorded his seventh save of the season as he pitched a scoreless ninth, getting Montero to fly out to left for the game’s final out.

Cliff Lee received a no-decision as he went six innings, giving up five runs, only three of which were earned, on eight hits and two walks, while striking out two. Jeff Manship (1-0, 6.75) got the win as he threw a scoreless inning, as he gave up a hit, while striking out two. Antonio Bastardo received his third hold of the year as he pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up a walk, while striking out a batter. Mike Adams collected his first hold of the season, as he pitched a third of an inning, getting out the only man whom he would face. Jonathan Papelbon collected his seventh save of the season as he pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit, while striking out a batter. Bronson Arroyo also received a no-decision as he pitched six and a third innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk, as he struck out two. Joe Thatcher pitched two-thirds of an inning, plus a batter, as he gave up an unearned run on a hit. Trevor Cahill blew his first save of the season before taking the lost (1-5, 7.66), as he pitched an inning, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out two. J.J. Putz pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit, while striking out a batter.

The Phils had thirteen hits in the game, with Carlos Ruiz (RBI) leading the team with three hits, all singles, followed by Ben Revere (Singles, RBI) and Don Brown (Singles) with two hits each. Jimmy Rollins (Single, RBI), Chase Utley (Single), Marlon Byrd (Single), Cliff Lee (Single), pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn, Jr. (Double, RBI) and Cody Asche (Double, RBIs), had the other six Phils’ hits. The Phils also had three walks (Utley, Byrd, Ruiz) and a stolen base (Revere (8)) in the game, while Lee picked off two runners, but only recorded one pick off because of Rollins’ missed catch error.

On Sunday afternoon, the Phils took the lead in the top of the first as, with one man on, and with one man out, Chase Utley hits an RBI single, knocking in Ben Revere, who has started the game off with a single, then stole second base, giving the Phils a 1-0 lead. The Phils added to their lead in the top of the seventh as, with a man on second, and with one man out, Utley, who had started the inning off with a double, would score on Marlon Byrd’s infield single as shortstop Owings tried to throw Utley out at third base, but instead hit him with the ball, which would then go into the dugout, making it a 2-0 Phils’ lead, while Byrd would move up to second base on shortstop Owings’ throwing error. That would end up being the final score as Jonathan Papelbon recorded his eighth save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth, getting Cody Ross to ground out, 6-3, for the game’s final out.

A.J. Burnett (1-1, 2.15) got the win as he threw eight scoreless innings, giving up just five hits and a hit batter, while striking out eight. Jonathan Papelbon received his eighth save of the season as he threw a scoreless inning, giving up a hit. Brandon McCarthy (0-5, 5.54) took the lost as he pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out twelve Phils. Oliver Perez and Brad Ziegler combined for two scoreless innings, giving up a hit (Ziegler) between them, while striking out one (Ziegler).

The Phils had eight hits in the game, with Ben Revere (Singles), Chase Utley (Single, Double, RBI) and Marlon Byrd (Singles) all leading the team with two hits each. Ryan Howard (Double) and Wil Nieves (Single) had the other two Phils’ hits, while the other Phil run came in on a throwing error. The Phils also had a walk (Jimmy Rollins), a stolen base (Revere (9)) and a caught stealing (Rollins (2)), while the defense performed a doubleplay.

The Phils (13-12, 4th) have the day off today.

The Phils’ rally in the ninth ends up being a run short as they lose to the D-backs, 5-4.

Ben RevereA Phils’ ninth inning rally ends up a run short as they lose to the D-backs, 5-4.

The D-backs took the lead in the bottom of the fourth as, with a runner on first, and with nobody out, Aaron Hill hits a two-run home run, his second home run of the year, knocking in Miguel Montero, who had started the inning off with a walk, giving the D-backs a 2-0 lead. The D-backs increased their lead in the bottom of the fifth as, with a runner on third, and with two men out, Paul Goldschmidt hits an RBI single, knocking in Gerardo Parra, who had earlier singed, stole second base, then moved up to third base on Martin Prado’s ground out, 6-3, giving the D-backs a 3-0 lead. The D-backs then made it a 4-0 lead two batters later as, after Montero had walked, moving Goldschmidt up to second base, Hill hits an RBI ground-rule double, knocking in Goldschmidt, while Montero would stop at third base. The Phils would get on the board in the top of the seventh as, with the bases loaded, via three straight singles by Marlon Byrd, Dom Brown and Carlos Ruiz, and with one man out, Cody Asche received a bases loaded walk, forcing in Byrd, making it a 4-1 D-backs’ lead, while sending Brown up to third base, and Ruiz on to second base, with still one man out. The Phils then made it a 4-3 D-backs’ lead as pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn, Jr. reached base on shortstop Cliff Pennington’s fielding error, allowing Brown and Ruiz to score, before Asche was called out at second base on the throw to second by center fielder Montero. Phils’ manager Ryne Sanberg challenged the call, saying that Asche was tagged while on the bag, and the challenge was upheld, leaving two men on base with only one out. The D-backs got a run back in the bottom of the eighth as, with one man out, A.J. Pollock hits a solo home run, his second home run of the season, making it a 5-3 D-backs lead. The Phils got a run back in the top of the ninth as, with a runner on second, and with two men out, Jimmy Rollins hits an RBI single, knocking in Ben Revere, who had earlier singled, then move up to second base on defensive indifference, making it a 5-4 D-backs’ lead. The Phils then threaten to tie the game as Rollins stole second base, followed by Chase Utley being intentionally walked. But Addison Reed would c0llect his sixth save of the season as he struck out John Mayberry, Jr. on a called third strike, for the game’s final out.

Roberto Hernandez (1-1, 5.81) took the lost as he pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out five. Jake Diekman pitched two innings, giving up a run on two hits, while striking out one. Josh Collmenter (1-2, 3.38) got the win as he threw sixth scoreless innings, giving up four hits, while striking out five. Joe Thatcher pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on two hits, while striking out a batter. Randall Delgado collected his first hold of the season as he pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up an unearned run on a hit and a walk. Oliver Perez received his second hold of the year as he pitched a third of an inning, giving up a hit. Brad Ziegler also collected his second hold of the season as he went two-thirds of an inning, giving up a hit. Addison Reed received his sixth save of the year as he gave up a run on two hits and a walk, while striking out two.

The Phils had eleven hits in the game, all singles, led by Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and Dom Brown with two hits each. Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Cody Asche had the other three Phils’ hits. The Phils also had two hits (Chase Utley, Asche) and two stolen bases (Revere (7), Rollins (4)) in the game.

The Phils (11-12, 4th East) continue their series with the D-backs (8-18, 5th West) with a game now in progress.

Tanaka to the Cubs? Three reasons why it is not such a crazy thought

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We are less than a week until the window closes for free agent RHP Masahiro Tanaka to sign with a MLB team. It is common for such negotiations to go until the last day, which is expected with this one. Especially with the new posting process with more than one team being given the negotiation rights. As opposed to other seasons with Japanese players who have been posted, any team that has posted the $20 million maximum bid can negotiate with Tanaka for the 30 day period. Before this season, only the team that gave the highest bid was given the rights to negotiate with the player.
Most of the talks we have heard have the Yankees as the favorites to land Masahiro Tanaka. The fact that the Yankees may or may not have a ceiling makes it less of a slam dunk than prior negotiations with Japanese players, such as Hideki Matsui. Many teams are figured to be in the mix as the $20 million posting fee fits most teams budgets. As recent as this past week, it seemed as if the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels were all but declared the finalists. The Cubs, Mariners and possibly the Diamondbacks still had interest. A report today has raised the level of interest of the Cubs in Tanaka. And while my initial intuition has faded over the course of the past month, that intuition was that the Cubs would land Tanaka in the first place.
It has been severely understated exactly how much Cubs President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer love Tanaka. As early as 2009, when Epstein was the Boston Red Sox GM and Hoyer was the assistant GM, both were raving about Tanaka, who at the time was 21. This reason was the one I most referred to in my thoughts that the Cubs and Tanaka would be a fit.
The Cubs have had the history of being a high spending team. Since Epstein and Hoyer have joined the Cubs front office, the team has not spent at the rate that they had in prior seasons. The intention was to rebuild the farm system with the thought of eventually adding payroll when the talent was ready to produce at the major league level. Prior to the new regime, the Cubs had a payroll of $134 million for the 2011 season. In 2010, the Cubs payroll was $144 million, $135 in 2009 and $118 in 2008. The Cubs payroll was $109 million in 2012, $107 million last season and currently is projected to be $77.9 million for this coming season. If Tanaka means that much to Epstein and Hoyer, the Cubs are in perfect position to make a significant offer. While some teams may have to slightly backload the deal, the Cubs can pay Tanaka well for the entire deal.
Another interesting thought that think the Cubs are preparing to make a splash is the situation going on with their arbitration eligible players. While the majority of MLB teams have few remaining cases that have not been resolved, the Cubs are planning to go to arbitration with four players. The Cubs had 8 eligible players, having settled with Nate Schierholtz ($5 million), James Russell ($1.775), Pedro Strop ($1.325) and Luis Valbuena (%1.71 million. The most interesting players that have not come to an agreement are starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood. Despite going 8-13, 4.34 for the Cubs last season, Samardzija finished 2013 with 2014 Ks in 213 2/3 IP. Wood had a breakout season, finishing 9-12, 3.11 in 200 IP. Both pitchers are worth more than what the Cubs are offering, Samardzija at $4.4 million and Wood at $3.5 million. In my opinion, an agreement would have been reached with both if the Cubs were not saving the pennies for Tanaka. Both Darwin Barney and Justin Ruggiano are also likely going to arbitration with Barney at $1.8-$2.8 and Ruggiano at $1.6-$2.45. Both disparities are not much for a middle agreement to be fair.
Obviously we look at both Los Angeles teams as the high spenders in MLB right now. The Yankees have not spent at the same rate over the past couple seasons but are always considered a threat. Based on the direction of the three teams, all three are expected to look at Tanaka as a pitcher that can better their chances to win. That is why the Cubs have been ruled out. I believe the Cubs have put themselves in position where can go all in on Tanaka. I have every reason to believe that the Cubs will make one of the highest, if not the highest offer for his services. The question will be whether he wants to play for the Cubs, play in the midwest and thinks the Cubs are going in the right direction.

2013′s MLB Bonehead of the Year, the 1st annual “NMA”

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There have been few MLB players who I have been more critical of than former Pirates, Nationals and Brewers OF Nyjer Morgan. And perhaps it is something I should back off soon. As it has been announced that Morgan will not return to the Japanese Yokohama team next season, there is a good chance he will land a job back in major league baseball as a 4th OF or even a platoon starting situation in the right spot. In that regard, I wish him the best. He is still a very serviceable player who put up decent to good numbers at Yokohama. I am presented my own award, which goes to the biggest bonehead of the MLB season, and I am calling it the “Nyjer Morgan Award”, presented by www.johnpielli.com.
I guess my disdain for @theRealTPlush comes from a series of incidents that happened within a little more than a year from each other. There was his barreling over of a defenseless catcher who was nowhere near the plate against the Marlins. While playing for the Nationals, his hit on Brett Hayes was uncalled for. What was worse was his reaction after being hit in retaliation for it, which escalated the situation. I am not saying he should have taken it, but to show up the team by stealing bases in a meaningless time of the game added to the fact that he was already wrong by hitting the catcher for no reason. If that was the one time he brought the negative vibes to himself, I could deal with it. Then there was him sticking his head into the Brewers/ Cardinals rivalry of 2011. His unprovoked shouting match with Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter seemed like a cry for attention, and maybe an attempt to prove himself as a “Brewer”. With the fact that Carpenter has a reputation for antagonizing opposing players, that was another situation where if it was isolated, it would have been forgotten. Then there was the bold statements regarding the Cardinals playoff chances, which in itself simply made him look foolish. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers to win the NL Pennant and eventually the 2011 World Series. Add in the fact that he intentionally yelled “fuck yeah” knowing it was going to be heard on air on TBS, I have found it very difficult to endear myself to this man. Perhaps if he signed with my favorite baseball team, the New York Mets, I would give it one last chance.
But Nyjer Morgan is not the only associated with MLB that stands out as being a bonehead. 2013 was full of moments like that, from Mets SS Ruben Tejada’s overall cocky attitude almost costing him a job to some of the umpires either doing a terrible job at what they get paid to do or going on a world tour with the hopes that the general public knows their name. I came up with the five biggest boneheads in MLB for the 2013 season. But, before I get into them, here are some honorable mentions:
Brewers OF Carlos Gomez was clearly in the wrong when he took his grudge with Braves LHP Paul Maholm too far in a game in Milwaukee. Starting a fight with the entire Atlanta Braves team did not make Gomez look good, but to this point, this is the only time I have seen Carlos Gomez act that way.
Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene and pretty much saved the Los Angeles Dodgers 2013 season. He did not do it without some questionable hick-ups though. The fact that he became enraged during an altercation with the Arizona Diamondbacks is justified as he was hit in the face. His lack of hustle and overstated bravado have made him as many enemies as fans.
Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin has hopefully learned his lesson after running himself off the New York Mets. He has not proven himself to be an MLB player, let alone one who can spout off at veteran teammates and then his manager after being sent down to AAA. Getting popped for a 50 game PED suspension did not help.
However, the Mets players and perhaps management decided to isolate Valdespin, which put them in the fire. They deserved some criticism for allowing Jordany to get hit by Pirates RHP Bryan Morris in a game after Valdespin admired a HR in a game that had been decided already. Valdespin should not have done what he did, but to let the Pirates discipline him made the Mets look small.
Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez showed up the Braves a little bit in a game this past season. I did not look at this as a serious bonehead move, but one that should be stated. Braves 3B Chris Johnson looked just as silly when he involved himself, then intentionally took a scared route around all the players. (It was clear he wanted to speak but wanted to nothing to do with backing up what he had to say.)
I am sure many others can be mentioned in regards to incidents that happened this season, so feel free to let me know. Before I get into my top five, I need to mention the consistent bad performance of umpire CB Bucknor, a man who I am sure tries very hard, but he is among the worst at what he does. Without further due, here are my top five boneheads of 2013 in MLB.
5. Carlos Quentin, OF, San Diego Padres: I would have ranked him a little higher as my initial reaction to his actions in the LA game had me more upset than I currently am. But, Carlos Quentin had no reason to rush the mound after he was hit by the Zack Greinke. While stating he was hit by Greinke twice before, he failed to acknowledge the fact that he stands closer to the plate than any other MLB hitter and is frequently among the most hit batters in all of MLB. If he has such a problem getting hit, maybe it is time to back off the plate.
4. Umpire Tom Hallion: Hallion has had enough of a reputation for being a hothead. Maybe he simply needs some anger management. However, his actions during a Rays game in Chicago simply make Hallion look silly. After what arguably seemed like a small strike zone by Rays LHP David Price, it seemed like Price composed himself professionally walking off the field after the 7th and final inning of his outing. Was he happy? No, but he did nothing to show up Hallion. Hallion took his mask and said, “Throw the fucking ball over the plate!”, enraging the Rays bench and leading to his subsequent ejection of Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson. Hallion then called Price and the Rays bench a “liar” when asked about it after the game. My two cents: The Rays bench would not have reacted the way it did had Hallion not made that statement. Fans come out to see the players play baseball, not Tom Hallion.
3. Umpire Angel Hernandez: This will be my final time I cite a MLB umpire in this piece (#HoldUmpiresAccountable). Similar to Bucknor, there is no doubt that Angel Hernandez is one of the worst at doing his job. This was something known prior to his actions in a game between the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians when he was named temporary crew chief when Gerry Davis was unable to participate in Oakland. A ball hit by Athletics infielder Adam Rosales was ruled a double on the field when there was uncertainty over whether it went over the HR line or not. The umpires went to watch the video replay of it, which should have shown inconclusively that the ball hit the railing above the yellow line over the fence in right center field. As the crew chief, Hernandez refused to overturn the improper call. After ejecting Athletics manager Bob Melvin, MLB determined that Hernandez made the incorrect call, even though instant replay was used.
2. Brian McCann, catcher, Atlanta Braves: I, personally, like the fact that Brian McCann defends his teammates and has the reputation for being a very good leader. That should translate well to his new team, the New York Yankees. And the two particular incidents were provoked by Jose Fernandez and Carlos Gomez, respectively. But, McCann does look like a bonehead after taking it upon himself to be the police on the diamond. Many players show up the opposition by admiring home runs, and in my opinion, Fernandez did nothing more than what guys like Yasiel Puig and David Ortiz do on a nightly basis. If the first instance does not happen, the second is not blown up as much as it was. I thought McCann overreacted with the Fernandez situation, though he was correct with the way he handled the Gomez one. And while I admire McCann for defending his teammates, there is no one MLB player in charge of morality.
1. Luis Cruz, 3B, team Mexico in WBC, Dodgers, Yankees: I find it amazing that the biggest bonehead in 2013 happened to be over an incident during MLB’s spring training. I figured somebody would have topped it during the long MLB season, and subsequent postseason. But Cruz, who currently is not playing for a MLB team and was let go twice during the season, still owns the prize. Not only did Cruz provoke a nasty brawl between team Mexico and team Canada, but the fact that he did not understand the rules of the tournament made him look even more foolish. After Canada OF Shane Robinson laid down a bunt to reach via a hit while Canada held a decisive lead, Cruz openly signaled to his pitcher to hit the next batter. The rules of the tournament stated that if teams finished with the same records, one of the ways of determining which team moved on was total runs scored. Cruz’ voice was heard, which led to three pitches being thrown inside to the next batter, the last which incited the aggressive brawl between the two teams. Cruz recently signed a contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Professional League.
Perhaps I missed some other boneheads in MLB in 2013. Feel free to comment if there are any that strike your ire. Just remember, bitter feelings towards a manager for a team not doing well really dont count. Neither do underachieving players. Congratulations to Luis Cruz on winning the first annual “Nyjer Morgan Award”, presented by www.johnpielli.com.

12/17/2013 Chuck McElroy interview (Passed Ball Show)

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Post midterm updates on MLB team payrolls

More retro clipart at http://www.clipartof.com/

Baseball fans should be excited as there have now been more days in the offseason than there are left until the pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Of course, teams and players have yet to submit their bids for potential arbitration cases. Within that, many of the cases will settle for somewhere in the middle of the bids of the team and the player. Plus, the amount of free agents that are out there will impact which teams are projected to have higher payrolls than they currently have. The following is a list of which teams, at this very moment, have the highest payroll. This does not include contracts that have been agreed to that have not become official. In parenthesis are the amount of the players on the 25 man roster have already been signed (not counting arbitration eligibles and players on progressive contracts).
1. LAD(16) $188.3M
2. BOS (15) $155.0M
3. SFG (14) $138.2M
4. PHI (11) $137.3M
5. NYY (11) $134.4M
6. LAA (10) $129.9M
7. TOR (15) $121.2M
8. DET (11) $119.3M
9. TEX (14) $101.9M
10. STL (8) $91.5M
11. WSN (12) $87.1M
12. CIN (12) $78.6M
13. ARI (11) $74.8M
14. MIL (8) $71.2M
15. MIN (8) $66.0M
16. COL (8) $65.5M
17. CHW (9) $62.5M
18. KCR (9) $62.1M
19. CLE (10) $55.6M
20. CHC (8) $48.4M
21. NYM (4) $48.2M
22. PIT (9) $47.5M
23. BAL (9) $46.0M
24. ATL (6) $45.5M
25. SDP (9) $43.1M
26. SEA (4) $36.1M
27. TBR (9) $33.8M
28. OAK (5) $33.5M
29. MIA (6) $20.4M
30. HOU (3) $16.8M
It should be understood that recently agreed to contracts for the Mets Bartolo Colon ($10 mil), Dodgers Juan Uribe (7.5), Twins Mike Pelfrey ($5.5) and the Braves expected signing of Gavin Floyd are not counted against the listed payrolls. The Mets would be at $58.2 mil (19th), Dodgers at $195.8 (still at 1st) and the Twins at 71.5 (14th).
Assuming the Floyd deal in Atlanta is $8 million, which is the median of the starting pitchers salaries this offseason, I have included the four mentioned deals in what can be projected as the payrolls for the 2014 season. One thing needs to be understood, however. All the free agents on the board will eventually come off the board and there is still a possibility that more trades will be made. Plus, salary arbitration cases are very unpredictable. So, as we head into the season, here is where payrolls could be, with the remaining 25 man spots estimated with salary arbitration estimates and the balance of players paid the league minimum.
1. LAD $224.8M
2. BOS $165.5M
3. DET $157.3M
4. PHI $155.3M
5. NYY $154.9M
6. SFG $148.2M
7. LAA $144.4M
8. WSN $133.1M
9. TOR $132.7M
10. TEX $115.4M
11. STL $103.5M
12. CIN $102.6M
13. ARI $96.3M
14. ATL $91.5M
15. KCR $88.1M
16. NYM $86.2M
17. MIL $83.7M
18. MIN $83.5M
19. BAL $81.5M
20. CLE $81.1M
21. CHW $80.0M
22. COL $78.0M
23. CHC $74.8M
24. SDP $73.6M
25. OAK $71.0M
26. PIT $69.0M
27. TBR $62.2M
28. SEA $52.1M
29. MIA $37.5M
30. HOU $29.3M
As will be expected, teams like Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore and even the Cubs, Rockies and Brewers could spend considerably more. Especially with either the Orioles or Mariners likely to sign Nelson Cruz. The payroll totals at the moment as well as the projected ones from here are in no way a guarantee of what will be in a month or two. But it does set a good barometer of where teams may be by spring training. Stay tuned.

McCutchen over Goldschmidt for NL MVP simply because the Pirates made the playoffs

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The postseason awards are honestly becoming an annoying way to posture why one thinks a player is better than another. Within the last three seasons, both the Cy Young and league MVP discussions have changed from being an award that simply goes to the best pitcher or hitter in each league to one that depends on which stat you choose to go with. The sabermetric community likes to discredit stats such as pitcher wins and runs batted in, which to a point is justifiable, but no one ever talks about the fact a pitcher has to pitch well to win a lot of games and a batter has to actually drive said runs in. It can be debated all day, but the problem lies with the vague definition of the awards. What do you mean by best pitcher or most valuable player? Because there is no set criteria for each award, many choose to use their own definition of the award.
I feel confident that the AL MVP over the past two seasons was and should have been Miguel Cabrera. I think those who thought that Mike Trout should have won had a better case last season than this season. While I think Cabrera was correctly voted AL MVP, I understand the debate for Trout. Trout plays excellent defense, steals bases and probably does more different things to help the Angels than Cabrera does for the Tigers. In spite of Trout, the Angels still finished at 78-84. The critics say Trout did not have much to help him, but I do feel that the success of a team matters, at least to some extent. One who feels Trout should have won the award should agree that the numbers and production of the two are at least in the same ballpark. When that is the case, it is more important to factor in what the players impact had on a team.
Part of the reason I disagree with the choice for the NL MVP is the fact that it was simply given to Andrew McCutchen because the Pirates made the playoffs in 2013. Like I said before, I think a team’s success should factor in to the vote, but only if the players had comparable seasons. Yadier Molina’s value to the St Louis Cardinals cannot be stated more, and maybe he could have been a possibility if there was not a candidate that stood out.
But in 2013, there was a player who performed clearly above the rest. Paul Goldschmidt had an outstanding season, one which saw his numbers rank higher than McCutchen in just about every category. The Diamondbacks finished 81-81 and missed the playoffs, which is what cost Goldschmidt his due consideration. Lets break down the number of Goldschmidt and McCutchen and you make the logical decision, unless the award has changed to be the best player on a team to make the playoffs. I guess that is still up for debate.
McCutchen had a solid season, won the Silver Slugger Award and made the All Star team. In 157 games, McCutchen scored 97 runs, had 185 hits, 38 2Bs, 21 HR and 84 RBI. He had a .317 avg, .404 OBP and .508 SLG for a .912 OPS. Goldschmidt played in 160 games, scored 103 runs, had 182 hits, 36 2B, and led the NL in HRs (36) and RBIs (125). I can hear the sabermetrics people scoffing now. Driving in 125 runs, which by the way, nobody else in the NL did, does not mean the player was valuable. In fact, what a lousy performance! I hope you pick up my sarcasm. But even if you choose to disregard the RBI stat, which you have every right to do, Goldschmidt had a .401 OBP and led the league in both slugging percentage (.551) and OPS (.952). He also led the NL with his 160 OPS+ and 332 total bases. McCutchen was close (158) in OPS+, but not close in the other categories.
One may want to bring the defensive element into play, like they do with Trout. Ok, McCutchen did not win a Gold Glove Award this season, but Goldschmidt did. That should count for something. The only way one can justify McCutchen getting the award this season is because he played on a superior team. I’d like to use that as a tiebreaker if the numbers are close. They were not in this case. Goldschmidt should have been the clear winner, with no tiebreaker needed.
Going back 27 and 26 years ago, respectively, I understand that there were no extensive stats to go by. But the voting system changed. When Mike Schmidt and Andre Dawson won the NL MVP in 1986 and 1987, they got the award because they were the best players in their respective leagues. If we were using today’s formula of “you have to make the playoffs to win an award,” Glenn Davis of the Astros and Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez of the Mets would have finished 1-3. In 1987, the same could have been said about St Louis’ Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark and San Francisco’s Will Clark.
I get the change from a sabermetric perspective, but Goldschmidt was a better offensive player than McCutchen this season and was also the best defensive 1B in the NL. I understand that Goldschmidt cannot play CF like McCutchen, but he is the best defensively at his position. Don’t the sabermetric guys like to incorporate defense into these votes? A guy that wins a GG and leads the league in OPS, OPS+ and total bases should be the most valuable

11/7/2013 Greg Hansell interview (Passed Ball Show)

Greg Hansell interview

John Pielli

9/3/2013 Chris Michalak interview (Passed Ball Show)

Chris Michalak interview

chris michalak picture

What the 2014 MLB draft order would be if season ended today

As the month of September has started, the teams competing for a playoff spot or division race have made their last adjustments before going for it. Justin Morneau was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Michael Young was moved from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the last minute of August 31st. The Phillies also moved SS John McDonald to the Red Sox, giving the 14 year veteran to play for 4 MLB teams this season. Teams not competing for playoff spots are playing out the stretch run and likely looking at particular players to see how they may fit into the team’s plans going forward.
The 2014 MLB draft is something that should at the bottom of the list for most struggling teams to think about at this point, but this is the 1-30 draft order if the season ended today. Playoff teams are re-ordered based on where they finish their postseason season. In addition, games that have not ended yet are not included. However, there is a decent idea of what the top ten would look like with some spots to be determined this month.
1. Houston Astros 45-91 (won today 2-0 vs Seattle): The Astros are almost a lock to gain the top pick in the draft for the 3rd consecutive season.
2. Miami Marlins 49-85 (game in progress at Atlanta): The Marlins were expected to challenge the Astros for the worst team in baseball, but at the moment, are 5 games ahead.
3. Chicago White Sox 56-79 (lost today 7-6 at Boston): The White Sox struggles are a bit of a surprise. The White Sox having the 3rd overall pick in next year’s draft is a huge surprise.
4. Chicago Cubs 58-78 (won 7-1 vs Philadelphia): The Cubs probably expected a top 5 pick and could finish as low as 3. This north vs south battle is much less intriguing than a pennant race for either team.
5. Milwaukee Brewers 59-77 (lost vs LA Angels): The Brewers have been doomed this season with injuries and Ryan Braun’s steroid abuse. Still a chance that some good play can get them out of the top 10.
6. Minnesota Twins 59-76 (won at Texas): The Twins, on paper, seem to have the 3rd or 4th worst team in all of MLB. Manager Ron Gardenhire has this team playing slightly above their heads, but not enough to be close to contending at any point this season.
7. (tie) San Diego Padres 60-75 (GIP vs LA Dodgers): It is not a surprise that the Padres are not contending, though some people (myself included) thought this team could surprise. If they finish as high as 3rd (still quite possible), they will be well out of the top ten.
7. (tie) San Francisco Giants 60-75 (GIP at Arizona): The defending World Series Champions have a legit chance of getting a top ten pick.
9. (tie) Philadelphia Phillies 62-75 (lost at Chicago Cubs): One possible silver lining of an absolutely disastrous 2013 season for the Phillies is a top free agent protected 1st round draft pick.
10. (tie) Toronto Blue Jays 62-75 (lost vs Royals): The Blue Jays made some aggressive moves this past offseason. If the season were to end today, the Jays would have the last of the protected 1st round picks.
11. Seattle Mariners 62-74 (lost at Houston): The Mariners are still very much in the race to gain a top ten pick. Only a half of game out as we speak.
12. New York Mets 62-72 (game tonight at Washington): The Mets saw their number 10 overall pick last year drop out of the top ten due to the Pittsburgh Pirates inability to sign 2012 number 7 overall pick Mark Appel. A typical Mets September could move them back into top ten status.
13. Los Angeles Angels 63-72 (won at Milwaukee): The Angels continue their unbelievable plunge from grace.
14. Colorado Rockies 64-73 (GIP vs Reds): The Rockies had the number 3 overall pick in 2013 and got off to a very good start this season. They will be battling with the Padres and Giants for 3rd place in the NL West. The finish will obviously affect the draft positions.
15. Washington Nationals 68-67 (game tonight vs New York Mets): While this season has been an epic failure, the Nationals should know they will not have a lower pick than 15 due to the amount of games they are ahead of the next worse team.
16. Kansas City Royals 70-66 (won at Toronto): The Royals were one of the hottest teams in all of baseball for a stretch last month. They have plateaued as they look for a strong finish.
17. Arizona Diamondbacks 69-65 (GIP vs San Francisco): The Diamondbacks are the only NL team not in playoff position that has a chance to make a move. After making some bold trades of some key players, they have done respectable this season.
18. New York Yankees 72-64 (lost vs Baltimore): The Yankees lost a chance to sweep the Orioles this weekend and are currently on the outside looking in.
19. Cleveland Indians 72-64 (won at Detroit): The Indians tied themselves back with the Yankees with their win in their last at bat in Detroit.
20. Baltimore Orioles 72-63 (won at New York Yankees): In addition to the Orioles, Yankees and Indians race to be in AL Wild Card position, all three teams are jockeying for the 18-20 picks in next year’s draft.
The following ten teams are in position to get into the postseason. Once in, the draft order will determined by how each team performs in October.
21. Cincinnati Reds 76-60 (GIP at Colorado)
22. Tampa Bay Rays 75-59 (GIP at Oakland)
23. Oakland Athletics 77-58 (GIP vs Tampa Bay)
24. (tie) St Louis Cardinals 79-57 (won at Pittsburgh)
24. (tie) Pittsburgh Pirates 79-57 (lost vs St Louis)
26. Texas Rangers 79-57 (lost vs Minnesota)
27. Detroit Tigers 80-57 (lost vs Cleveland)
28. Los Angeles Dodgers 80-55 (GIP vs San Diego)
29. Boston Red Sox 82-56 (won vs Chicago White Sox)
30. Atlanta Braves 83-52 (GIP at Miami)

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