Tag Archive | "S Games"

Is Hands Off Best For Jaime?

Jaime Garcia has, at times, been one of the best pitchers the St. Louis Cardinals have on staff.  At other times, he has been erratic.

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It is a subject that has been poured over many times, but Jaime Garcia can go from “lights out” to “nobody’s home” with just a bad call or missed play behind him.  The lefty has shown moments of brilliance and moments of complete confusion, sometimes in the same game.  Much has been said about it and, behind the scenes, much has been analyzed about it.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has said in interviews that he fully believes that he could have helped prevent the amazing collapse of Rick Ankiel on the mound had he not been hurt and not on the field during the 2000 playoff run.  He has stated that earlier in that season, Ankiel had struggled and he was able to bring him back into focus and get through the situation.

Thirteen years later, Jaime Garcia has Matheny for a manager and the two are trying to find the best way to help the pitcher overcome mental lapses and realize his potential on the mound.

During a recent interview, Matheny has revealed that the team will attempt to take some pressure off of Garcia by not looking into every detail of the starter’s games.  It seems there is some concern that he tries to adjust his mechanics too often, becoming too much of a perfectionist and getting inside his own head.

“I’m not dissecting everything he’s doing,” Matheny insisted after the win. “I know everybody else likes to right now. I’m just watching him go out there and do his thing. He did a nice job of pitching without reading into every situation that he gets into or out of. … I made a commitment to myself not to microscope him.” –from StlToday.com

Garcia will need to continue to pitch at the level he projects at in 2013 for the Cardinals to remain successful.  In addition, with the young talent being developed in the system, Garcia may be pitching to secure a spot on this team in the near future.

Either way, getting Garcia out of his head and into a routine will be a good thing for everyone involved.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Tigers ‘tamed’ in Kansas City

The sweep of the Detroit Tigers Thursday sealed up a winning month of August for the Kansas City Royals. August for the Royals, though not finished, currently sees the team having a record of 17-11.

The Royals were able to keep the Tigers bats in the dugout for the most part of the series surrendering only one run in the final two games of the three game series.  A series that started with big hits in key situations and ended with stellar pitching.  The Royals were able to show the Tigers what they may be seeing in the future with a team that when runs are needed they will score them and when pitching and defense are the key to the game they step up.  The Royals are not only learning how to win but they are beginning to win the games that are needed to win to take home a pennant in the future.

Not only did the Royals sweep the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium, in three consecutive one run ballgames, but they did it in a series that they had to face pitching genius, Justin Verlander. The Royals put up eight runs in just five and two-thirds innings on Verlander who saw the low side of the 6th inning for only the second time in over a year and a half. The Royals were able to get past Verlander behind three multi-hit, multi-RBI games from Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and Mike Moustakas. Luis Mendoza, the starting pitcher for the Royals, gave up six runs in only five innings of work yet out pitched Verlander on a night that Verlander has never been as bad as he was against the boys from Kansas City.

Both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s games were a different stories for both teams with a total of four runs being scored in those 18 innings.  The starting pitching of both Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie not only kept the Royals in the game but shut down an offense that not only can score runs but can score them in bunches in a hurry.  Chen throwing a scoreless eight innings and Guthrie conceding one run over seven and a third innings. Greg Holland got the save in the first two games of the series while Kelvin Herrera earned the save Thursday night, the first of his career.  The offenses were tamed throughout the two games for the most part with a lot of hits that just were not producing and runs. The biggest thing that stands out is the fact that the Tigers big boppers on the hot corners were not allowed to hurt the Royals.  That seems to be the key to beating the Tigers.  If you can keep both Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera from hurting you than the game is within reach.

The team from Kauffman is doing exactly what it seems that they do every year.  The excite in August and September.  The problem with Royals teams of the past is the success they were able to bring to the clubhouse late in the season did not translate into being able to win in the beginning of the next season.  This teams needs to start like they are seemingly finishing again this season.  They cannot have the 12 game losing streak and a long hangover from the All-Star break in seasons of the future if they want to be playing past 162 games.  The old adage is that they team that is able to win in the postseason is the team that is not the best but that is the hottest.  Well the Royals have shown that late in the season they can get hot but they need to do it earlier.  This city is dying for a winner.  But until the team has a full season of games that they have shown in spurts that they can have the city will not have a winner. Fans of the Kansas City Royals may agree with the late owner, Al Davis, of the rival of the other team that plays at Truman Sports Complex when he used to say, “Just win baby, win.”

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At Bat Sustains Frenzied Pace

MLB.COM AT BAT SUSTAINS FRENZIED PACE
Mobile consumption of live baseball games rises to record levels; Averaging over 800K live streams per day

NEW YORK, APRIL 12, 2012 – MLB Advanced Media, L.P. (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, today announced that its MLB.com At Bat 12 application surpassed the three million download mark yesterday, achieving the milestone only eight days into the 2012 MLB regular season and more than four months earlier than its record-setting 2011 campaign. Last year, At Bat reached that mark on August 22, 145 days into the season.

Since Opening Day, the mobile application has delivered a daily average of over 800,000 live audio and video streams, an increase roughly double last year’s comparable daily average. This includes yesterday’s games during which fans consumed more than one million live streams.

At Bat returned with its fifth edition in February to such strong fan demand that within a matter of hours the app rose to become the highest grossing sports application for iPhone, iPad and Android, top spots it currently maintains. Overall, At Bat has been ranked as the highest grossing sports application for 43 consecutive days on Android and 70 days combined on iPhone and iPad, including the past 19 straight for both iOS devices. The only other sports app to hold that number one ranking for iPhone or iPad was March Madness Live.

MLB.TV Premium subscribers get At Bat 12 for free on supported iOS and Android devices. Fans also can subscribe to MLB.com At Bat 12 for the one-time seasonal fee of $14.99 on all available platforms (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile) or iPhone and iPad users have the option of a $2.99 per month fee with a monthly recurring billing option.

For more information, visit MLB.com.

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The Day .400 Slipped Away

It was the hottest summer on record, if I remember right. It sure felt like it when I was out delivering newspapers.

I was 10 years old, walking to the city pool every day and playing little league baseball in the evenings. Most of my free time was spent poring over baseball cards and throwing a tennis ball against the brick school wall.

The broiling heat of 1980 finally subsided, but not before school started in the fall. As August rolled into September and football season kicked off, things finally cooled.

Everything that is, except George Brett.

The Royals were steamrolling toward a playoff berth, and back then, people paid attention to the team even in September. KU and K-State were both bottom feeders in football, and the Chiefs weren’t much better.

That was the season that George Brett transitioned from all-star to legend, and in September he became a statistical standard.

Nearly every season, some hitter gets off to a torrid start and sustains an abnormally high batting average for a few weeks. A special hitter might keep it up for a couple of months.

But the grind, the sample size and human limitations always win out. By mid summer, fights for the batting title are waged in the .320 to .350 range.

But in 1980, George Brett continued to blaze even when the sun finally relented.

By the time school started, “George Brett for President” bumper stickers had appeared, and the nightly newscasts lead off with reports of Brett’s up-to-the-minute batting average.

Tragically, my local cable station decided not to carry many of KC’s games that season. What turned out to be a magical season for Royals’ fans had to be followed by a central-Kansas 5th grader via radio, newspaper, and nightly TV newscast.

On Sept. 4, Brett’s average stood at .401, and the buzz around the nation was whether he could become the first man since Ted Williams in 1941 to finish the season above the .400 mark.

American League pitchers couldn’t stop Brett, but sadly his own health did. After going 1-7 over the next two games and watching his average drop to .396, Brett went to the bench for the next nine games.

When he finally returned to the field, 11 days later, he made history. On Sept. 17, he went 4-8 against California to lift his average to .398. Roughly two weeks of the season remained.

Brett added a 2-3 night on Sept. 18, to reach .398.

The magic culminated on Sept. 19.

In his first at-bat that day against the A’s Brian Kingman, Brett lofted a sacrifice fly to center, driving in the first run of the game, but avoiding an out against his batting average.

In his second trip to the plate, Brett singled in the 3rd inning off Kingman to drive in the second run of the game.

Brett also singled to lead off the 5th inning, this time against Dave Beard. At that moment his average was firmly established over .400.

Even though he flied out in the 6th and struck out in the 7th, Brett finished the night with his season average at .400. The team improved to 92-56 and the only thing left to be decided was Brett’s pursuit of the illustrious mark.

During his chase of .400, Brett held a press conference before and after every game. The nation’s focus on Kansas City ratcheted up to a fever-pitch. Brett tried to be accommodating, but the media pressure wore on him.

The next day, Brett and the Royals finally cooled off.

On Sept. 20, Brett went 0-4 to dip to .396. That began a plummet unlike any he’d seen all season. It saw him go 4-27 and sink all the way to .384. The team dropped eight straight. The media all went away to leave Brett and the Royals to play out the rest of the season.

Finally out of the spotlight, Brett surged back to .391 on Oct. 1 – mathematically, at least, there was still a chance. But when the Royals entered their final game on Oct. 5 with Brett sitting at .390, their focus turned to the playoffs.

Brett recounted recently that he wanted to play that final game in 1980, confident that he could put together one more of those special games that could raise his average back to .400. He would have needed to go 5 for 5 that day – something he said he’d done several times in the past.

But manager Jim Frey, aware of Brett’s ultra-competitive nature, feared an injury to his star would doom their playoff chances. So at .390 Brett would stay, just short of the .400 mark but well rooted in history.

Since 1941, only Tony Gwynn has topped Brett’s .390 (.394 in 1994). Only one other player has even topped .380 (Rod Carew batted .388 in 1977).

Fans were left to wonder what might have been, if Brett hadn’t been so plagued by injuries during the season. Could the injuries have turned five hits, somewhere during the season, into outs?

The Royals’ third baseman wasn’t the only Brett who recognized just how close he’d come to the illustrious mark. George Brett recently told Ryan Lefebvre that when he visited his parents’ house in California that winter, the first thing his father asked was “Are you telling me you couldn’t have got five more (expletive) hits?”

Sept. 19, 1980 still holds great significance to Royals fans because it is the latest any player sat over at or above .400, by a long shot. The closest since was John Olerud, who in 1993 was over .400 as late as Aug. 2. That’s much more than a month shy of Brett. In 2000, Todd Helton sat at .399 on Aug. 18, so Brett outlasted him by a month. None other made a serious push into August.

To put it in modern perspective, consider the stellar season Alex Gordon has had. Good as he has been, Gordon’s average is nearly 100 points below Brett’s at this same point in the season.

I can still remember the famous photo of Brett standing on second base, arms held aloft, celebrating one of the many hits that put him at .400. As a 10-year-old, I was too young to fully grasp how long it had been since Williams achieved the mark. But I can now fully appreciate that in 31 years since Brett made his bid, no one has done it. That means it’s now been 70 years since anyone accomplished what Brett almost did.

Someone may actually hit .400 someday. But until then it’s a joy to those of us who remember that it was the Royals’ own Brett who came the closest.

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Edwin Jackson To Date

Edwin Jackson has made four stats for the Cardinals. Given that he was acquired on 27 July, and started his first game for his new club two days later, he will make at most 11 starts for St Louis in 2011. Having already started a third of those, how do his numbers compare to his career norms?

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First, his career numbers in some selected categories: 4.53 ERA, 1.483 WHIP, 1.81 strikeout-to-walk (SO/BB) ratio, 4.39 xFIP. While with the Chicago White Sox earlier this season, he posted better-than-his-career-norm numbers in ERA (3.92), WHIP (1.422), SO/BB (2.49), and xFIP (3.48). Since joining the Cardinals, however, he appears to have regressed (4.62, 1.697, 2.00, 4.00). Is that a fair assessment?

Actually, no it is not. Jackson was left on the mound to take a beating at Milwaukee’s hands on 3 August, because the bullpen had been completely expended the previous night in an extra inning win. Jackson went seven innings and allowed 10 runs (8 earned) that night. His other 3 starts? Five earned runs total in 18.1 innings pitched (ERA: 2.45). That first August game accounts for 61% of the earned runs he has allowed since the trade. Looking solely at the same categories as above, and removing that 3 August start, his ERA lowers to the aforementioned 2.45, his WHIP to 1.581, his xFIP to 1.64, and his SO/BB ratio rises to 1.43. Those are much better numbers. His WHIP is still high, but his WHIP has always been high. Jackson’s SO/BB ratio is below his career norm, but will likely continue to improve. His ERA and xFIP are sterling.

Edwin Jackson has pitched very well so far in his time with the Cardinals, and he’s also done the consummate teammate thing and ‘taken one for the team’. He has been a fine pick-up.

Many of us, this writer included, believe the Cardinals gave up too much to get him. For the record, through Wednesday’s games Colby Rasmus had a .225/.243/.394 slash line, not far different from the .226/.342/.420 line he posted with the Cardinals this season. It clearly is too early to accurately evaluate that trade, and a couple of seasons will have to pass before it can be done objectively. In the near term, St Louis acquired Edwin Jackson for 11 starts in 2011 so he could solidify the back end of their rotation and help propel them into the post-season. Through the first third of those starts, he has pitched better than reasonable people could have expected.

Jackson’s next start is Saturday at Wrigley, against former teammate Matt Garza. Hopefully the hamstring tightness that forced him from his last start is completely gone, allowing him to continue pitching very effectively.

Mike Metzger is a San Diego Padres blogger and life-long Cardinal fan.

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Rob Rains Inside Baseball: Trading For Pitchers

Now that the trading deadline has come and gone, we know that Ubaldo Jimenez, and not Edwin Jackson, was the best starting pitcher who changed teams this week, going from the Colorado Rockies to the Cleveland Indians.

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Would it have been nice if the Cardinals had been able to trade for Jimenez? Certainly. But the reason they didn’t shows why they are not the Cleveland Indians, and why that is a very good thing.

To get Jimenez, the Indians had to trade four prospects, including two pitchers who rank among the elite young pitchers in the game, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, their top picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts. This would have been basically the same as the Cardinals giving up Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, plus two other minor-leaguers.

While the Cardinals had no interest in doing that, the Indians believed they had to make the move. Even though both teams went into Sunday’s games 1 ½ games out of first place in their respective divisions, the franchises are not equal.

The Indians have been to the playoffs only one time since 2001, winning the AL Central in 2007 and coming within one game of making it to the World Series. In eight of the other nine years since 2001, however, they have finished .500 or below.

As a result, the franchise that once set attendance records and sold out every game has been last or next-to-last in the AL in attendance the last two years. Going into Sunday, they ranked 12th this year, ahead of only Oakland and Tampa Bay. They drew only 1.3 million fans in 2010. They have to give their fans some reason to start coming back to the ballpark and get a buzz going in the city about the Indians and they are hopeful another division title will do that.

Unlike the Cardinals, where making the playoffs and selling 3 million tickets is almost expected every year, getting to the postseason in Cleveland is a big deal. And that was why taking the chance on dealing two future stars for a proven No. 1 starter was worth the risk. Jimenez is only 27 and, with an option, is under the control of the Indians through at least 2014.

The Al Central, just like the race in the NL Central, is imminently winnable for the Indians, especially if Jimenez pitches as he did for the Rockies a year ago.

The Cardinals, of course, were not the only team who refused to give up their top pitching prospects in deadline deals. Neither did the Yankees, Braves or Tigers. Other than Pomeranz and White, the best pitching prospects who were traded were Zack Wheeler, going from the Giants to the Mets for Carlos Beltran; Robbie Erlin of the Rangers, going to San Diego in the Mike Adams deal, and Jarred Cosart, sent to Houston by the Phillies as part of the package for Hunter Pence.

One young pitcher not traded was St. Louisian Jacob Turner of the Tigers. The 20-year-old graduate of Westminster High School was called up by the Tigers from Double A Erie to make his major-league debut on Saturday against the Angels.

Rob and BJ take their show on the road to The Sports Zone on Watson in Kenrick Plaza this Friday. $100 gift certificate will be given away. Hope to see you there.

Turner knew ahead of time that his stay in the majors – now – was only going to be for the one start, but he acquitted himself very well in his five-plus innings of work.

“Some of you guys will be gone,” manager Jim Leyland told reporters after the game. “And I’ll be gone, but he will still be pitching here for a long time. He’s that good.”

Turner became the youngest pitcher to start a game for the Tigers since 1979. He allowed just three hits in 5 1/3 innings of work and two runs and was charged with the loss. Six of the 16 outs he recorded came on strikeouts.

“It was a dream come true,” said Turner, the Tigers’ first-round pick n the 2009 draft. “I definitely had jitters in the first inning, but I think that’s to be expected … It was an awesome experience.”

The highlight of the day for Turner might have been as he was walking off the field, when he received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Comerica Park.

“Once they started cheering, I don’t really know how to describe it,” Turner told reporters. “My body felt like it went numb. That was just kind of the highlight of my day, to be honest.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was among those impressed by Turner’s performance.

“He has poise and command,” Scioscia said. “You have to be excited about everything that kid did.”

That’s something the Cardinals hope opponents are saying about Miller and Martinez sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Was Buehrle a possibility?

When the Cardinals first began discussing trading for pitching help with the White Sox, it would be interesting to know if Mark Buehrle’s name came up before that of Edwin Jackson.

Landing Buehrle likely would have come at a steeper cost than just Colby Rasmus for the Cardinals, since the White Sox, like the Indians and Tigers, are definitely in the race in the AL Central. But there are a lot of reasons why it would have made sense.

The left-handed pitcher, now 32, has made no secret of the fact that he would like to pitch for the Cardinals at some point before he retires. The native of St. Charles, Mo., is eligible for free agency at the end of this season and is pitching as well as he has in a long time. He held the Red Sox to two runs in six innings on Sunday, lowering his ERA to 3.21.

As a player with 10 years in the majors and five years with the White Sox, Buehrle would have had to give his consent to any trade. His contract also includes a $15 million option for next year which kicks in only if he is traded.

The Cardinals might have been a little scared off by that fact, but it seems possible Buehrle would have worked with his hometown team to reduce the cost for next year in exchange for adding another year or two onto the deal.

The White Sox seem to think there is no way Buehrle will leave as a free agent after the season, as they have not approached him yet about trying to work out a new deal. Since the Cardinals did not pursue him now, it remains to be seen if they will be interested this winter.

What the Blue Jays see in Rasmus

There is a growing belief among some people in baseball that Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos is running a halfway house and not a major-league franchise. They cite his deals for shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Braves last year, Milwaukee prospect Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus, all of whom had problems getting along with their previous employers.

Anthopoulos goes along with the suggestion that the players should benefit from a change of scenery, but he told the Toronto Globe and Mail, “It’s not like we’ve brought in, I don’t know, Milton Bradley and Jose Guillen.”

If Rasmus can do what Escobar has done in Toronto, he will be very happy. Escobar leads all major-league shortstops in walks and on-base percentage and ranks second in batting average.

Escobar had a bad reputation with the Braves, but has been a key performer for the Blue Jays – exactly what they hope happens with Rasmus.

“What’s happened here, offensively, is that (manager) John Farrell has just let me play,” Escobar said through an interpreter. He added the difference in his game was “happiness.”

Said Anthopoulos, “I think we can get more out of him (meaning Rasmus) than we saw in St. Louis.”

Rasmus began his Toronto career 0-for-12 with five strikeouts before getting two hits and two RBIs in the win Sunday over Texas.

Trading deadline fallout

The general manager who had the worst trading deadline experience was Tampa Bay’s Andrew Friedman, who underwent an appendectomy Saturday night and worked the phones Sunday from his hospital room … The best moves at the deadline came from the Phillies (surprise), getting an impact player (Hunter Pence) for the third consecutive year, following deals for Cliff Lee in 2009 and Roy Oswalt last year; Texas, which got the bullpen help it wanted without giving up either of its best prospects; the Braves, who got the perfect player for their lineup in Michael Bourn of the Astros and held on to their top four pitching prospects; and the Pirates, who did not mortgage their promising future but still added major-league quality hitters in Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee … The biggest loser, at least in the short time, was the Astros. The deals for Pence and Bourn left them with only three position players in their starting lineup Sunday – Clint Barmes, Carlos Lee and Jason Michaels – who have more than 196 career games in the major leagues … The two most surprised players to finish Sunday still with their original teams were Heath Bell of the Padres and B.J. Upton of the Rays, whose names had been linked to numerous deals for more than a month but ended up going nowhere.

Head over to RobRains.com to read Rob’s notes from around baseball by clicking here.

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Inside Baseball With Rob Rains: All Star Outfield

The fans who actually study the statistics and don’t just automatically punch out the boxes next to all of the players on their favorite team on the All-Star ballot are facing some tough choices this season.

With a couple of weeks left in the balloting for this year’s game in Phoenix, no position seems harder to pick than who deserves to be the three starting outfielders in the National League.

Consider that going into Sunday’s games, there were 11 NL outfielders who had played more than 40 games who were hitting better than .300; there also were 18 NL outfielders with more than 30 RBI, and 10 had 10 or more home runs — and you kind of get the idea.

The only outfielder who currently is ranked among the top three players in the league in all of the Triple Crown categories, and thus the only easy choice, is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers. He is tied with Prince Fielder for a league-high 19 homers, is third in the league with a .331 batting average and is second in RBI with 55.

Behind him, however, fans could build a case for any of six other outfielders who all rank in the top 10 in at least one of the three categories.

Cardinals fans, of course, are pulling for Lance Berkman, easily the top choice as the first-half comeback player of the year, and his credentials certainly are worthy of selection – 16 homers, tied for fourth in the league; a .317 batting average, seventh in the league, and 46 RBI, tied for sixth in the league.

Berkman’s competition, however, includes Jay Bruce of the Reds (17 HRs, .318 average and 48 RBI); Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun (14 homers, .309 average and 48 RBI) LA’s Andre Ethier (a .321 average, fourth best in the league), Houston’s Hunter Pence (.318 average and 48 RBI) and Florida’s Mike Stanton (16 home runs).

This group does not include other players having solid seasons who will get a lot of support among their team’s fans – Houston’s Michael Bourne (leading the NL with 26 stolen bases); Cincinnati’s Drew Stubbs (tied for the league lead with 48 runs), New York’s Carlos Beltran, having a good comeback season of his own), Pittsburgh’s young star Andrew McCutcheon; San Diego’s Ryan Ludwick; Arizona’s Chris Young and B.J. Upton, and don’t forget last year’s batting champion, Carlos Gonzalez of Colorado, who is coming on after a tough start.

The group also does not include the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday, who appeared headed to a spot on the team before his latest injury landed him on the disabled list, which will keep his numbers below those of the other top contenders.

That’s a total of 15 players for two spots, which doesn’t add up. At least three more, and perhaps four or five, will be added as reserves, but there will be at least six deserving candidates who are not going to be able to find a spot on the team.

If the only tough choice on the NL ballot was in the outfield that would be one thing, but the competition is just as tough, if not even tougher, at first base.

That group of candidates, where only one player can start, includes the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols; Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder; Cincinnati’s Joey Votto, and Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard. Not to be excluded from the discussion, but most likely to find themselves on the outside looking in, will be Florida’s Gaby Sanchez, Colorado’s Todd Helton and Houston’s Brett Wallace.

The perennial choices, Pujols and Howard, might lose out to Fielder this year, who is tied for the league lead in homers with 19, leads in RBI with 58 and has raised his average to .305 – 31 points higher than Pujols and 67 points higher than Howard.

Votto, the reigning MVP, has hit only eight homers but has driven in 39 runs and posted a .339 average. Sanchez, the most unknown player in the group, has 11 homers, 41 RBI and a .312 average.

It is not likely that any more than three out of this group, or perhaps four at the most, can earn a spot on the team.

At catcher, second base and shortstop, there is a clear-cut leader at each position, with a strong runnerup choice too. The Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, combining his defensive skills with a better offensive output this season, would appear to be the choice ahead of Atlanta’s Brian McCann, thanks to the injury to Buster Posey. At second base, Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks should come out ahead of the Reds’ Brandon Phillips, and at shortstop, the choice should be the Mets’ Jose Reyes with Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki as the backup.

The lost position in the NL is third base, where there really is nobody having an All-Star caliber season, thanks in part to injuries to players like Ryan Zimmerman and Pablo Sandoval. Only seven third basemen have more than 200 at-bats. Ryan Roberts of Arizona is the only third baseman with more than six home runs, and the only two with more than 28 RBI are the Phillies’ Placido Polanco and Atlanta’s Chipper Jones. Polanco is the only one hitting better than ,283.

There is a chance, of course, that somebody will got hot in the next two weeks and put some distance between themselves and other candidates, at any of the positions, but if not, good luck to the voters.

When it comes to picking the pitchers, some might not want to go to the game after what has happened since last year. Six of the nine pitchers who worked in last year’s game for the NL have been on the disabled list during this season – Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Hong-Chih Kuo, Adam Wainwright, Brian Wilson and Jonathon Broxton. The only three who have managed to avoid the DL are Heath Bell, Roy Halladay and Matt Capps, but he was traded to Minnesota.

Changes in the draft coming?

There is a belief around the major leagues that some changes will be made to the amateur baseball draft when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is approved. Proposals include making the draft worldwide, having a much more rigid pay scale for draft picks, and the possibility that a team could trade its picks, as happens in the NFL and NBA.

What should be discussed, however, is a plan to come up with some other way to compensate teams for losing free agent players other than awarding them extra picks between the first and second rounds of the draft.

This year, there were 27 extra choices between the first and second rounds. The Pirates were “rewarded” with the top overall pick in the draft for finishing last in 2010 but did not get to choose their second player until the 61st overall pick. It does make sense to give teams an extra pick if they don’t sign their first-round pick the previous year, but all of those extra picks totally affect the spirit of the draft.

Tampa Bay, for example, received the 42nd overall pick in the draft for losing free agent Grant Balfour. Arizona got the 43rd overall pick for losing Adam LaRoche. The Orioles, who finished with the second worst record in the AL, got the fourth pick in the draft – and then didn’t pick again until the 64th pick. In between those two picks, their division rivals Tampa, Boston and Toronto picked a total of 19 players, 10 by the Rays, four by the Red Sox and five by the Blue Jays, all for having lost free agents to other teams.

While teams that lose premium free agents such as Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez and Rafael Soriano should be entitled to compensation, it hardly seems fair that teams which lost players such as Octavio Dotel, Jesse Crain, Randy Choate or Chad Qualls should be rewarded with one of the first 60 picks in the draft.

Head on over to RobRains.com and read the rest of Rob’s Inside Baseball this week as he talks about a connection to a past St. Louis Browns famous player and takes a look around MLB and MiLB.

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Young And Restless

The Royals have not won since last Friday night against the Cardinals. That game the Royals showed patience and poise against a Cy Young winner in Chris Carpenter and eventually were able to scratch enough runs to win the ball game. After analyzing the box scores and scorecards from the rest of the week’s games, the reasons for the Royals current losing streak all comes down to certain fundamentals that for some reason or another they are failing to execute on the field.

Editor’s note: Due to the late, extra-inning game the team played on Friday night and the deadline for article submission, this article was written prior to the Royals clawed out a win against Texas in 14 innings.

Photo Courtesy Of Minda Haas

At the plate during the first 5-6 weeks of the season, the Royals showed remarkable patience and selection. This resulted in having a handful of starters batting above .300, some near the .330 mark or better (now there is only one starter hitting above .300). They waited for their pitch and tried to put into play. This past week they have not, while their opponents have seemed to battle through and find ways to get on base. In the past week, the Royals struck out thirty-five times vs. their opponents thirty-one times. This may not seem like much but some of these strikeouts have occurred when they had runners in scoring position. They Royals batted an anemic ten for forty-five with runners in scoring position, which left a small village of base runners nearly every single game.

This lack of patience has also left the Royals with fewer opportunities to score due to having only working their opponents to issuing twelve walks while their opponents’ batters were able to coax out twenty-seven walks (including thirteen in one game against the Cardinals). The Royals defense can stop the ball and get people out. However, they are going to have a tough time this summer if their pitchers cannot locate the strike zone on a consistent basis. Is this a sign of the Royals young pitching staff unraveling due to the pressure of the majors (which can be fixed with time and tutelage from the veterans and coaches)? Or, is this a sign that the Royals just outplayed their potential for the first six weeks and now every other team has them scouted down to a ‘T’?

Baseball is a game of many things and one of those is patience. The stereotype for many young players in this league is that they are not patient. They are not patient at the plate, they are not patient when the team is not winning and they end up trying so hard that they frustrate themselves into a complete slump in their game. I am all for playing hard and being ready before every single pitch but the greatest players who have ever played this game eventually figured out how to be patient enough and willing to make needed adjustments in order to make them better players.

These changes did not happen over night. George Brett did not all of a sudden become a feared hitter at the plate. Albert Pujols did not become a superstar with the wave of Tony Larussa’s magic wand. The only way to learn patience is to continue on your course (keep on keeping on) regardless of the passage of time. Eventually these young guys will learn patience and grow into a solid team. Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and we should not expect these young players to become perennial pennant chasing veterans overnight. We should expect them to compete and stay the course that Ned Yost and his staff have laid, and eventually they will reap the benefits.

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