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Tag:Yonder Alonso
Posted on: October 4, 2011 7:19 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 11:09 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

RaysBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s
R.I.P. series...

Team name: Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 91-71, 2nd place AL East, 6 games back. Wild card champions, lost to Rangers 3 games to 1 in ALDS
Manager: Joe Maddon
Best hitter: Ben Zobrist -- .269/.353/.469, 20 HR, 99 RBI
Best pitcher: James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 11 CG, 4 SHO, 2.82 ERA, 65 BB, 225 K

The Rays have now reached the postseason two years in a row, but dropped its second straight ALDS to the Rangers, making it to four games before the season ended. It was a remarkable run for a team that had to remake its bullpen and replace Carl Crawford in left field.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Tampa began the season as an afterthought in the eyes of many. After all, how were the Rays supposed to contend with New York and the revamped Red Sox? That didn't stop the team from producing, though, posting a record over .500 each of the first three months. The team got quite a bit of attention in April when Manny Ramirez retired instead of serving his 100-game suspension for failing a drug test for the second time. They weathered it though, despite losing someone that was supposed to be integral to the lineup. Sam Fuld dazzled the team for a while, but the Rays limped through the season offensively until Desmond Jennings was promoted in late July.

July wasn't kind to Tampa, finishing with a 11-15 record but they turned on the jets after that, going 35-20 and winning the wild card on the last swing of the regular season, with Evan Longoria's homer disappearing over the fence minutes after the Red Sox completed their collapse.

2012 AUDIT

The Rays have a decent amount of overturn coming, set to lose two starters from their lineup in Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon. Backstop Kelly Shoppach and reliever Juan Cruz also played integral roles, but the important thing to notice here is that none of Tampa's important players are free agents. That's huge, and while the Rays will doubtless be making some moves -- and if you see below, I have them making two significant trades -- they should enter 2012 with a team fairly recognizable from this year. This is a team poised to contend, and the riches in the minors will keep on boosting the team. Their postseason may have been cut short, but they'll be back plenty of times in the coming seasons.

FREE AGENTS

RP Juan Cruz
DH Johnny Damon
RP Kyle Farnsworth ($3.3 million club option)
1B Casey Kotchman
C Kelly Shoppach ($3.2 million club option)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • The Rays need to make room in the rotation for Matt Moore and fielded calls on James Shields this trade deadline. They need to field more calls and deal him to Cincinnati for first baseman Yonder Alonso, backstop Ryan Hanigan and a pitcher. Alonso can step in at first or DH, Hanigan can step in as the backstop and the pitcher can either be a back-end starting pitcher -- which Cincy has plenty of -- or a solid reliever. The move would give the Rays cost-control over Alonso for years and inject some thump into a lineup that could use another strong hitter.
  • Let Kelly Shoppach go and wait on Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon's market. Shoppach could be brought back on a smaller deal, but $3.2 million is too much for someone who hit .176/.288/.339, and fell under .200 in batting average for the second straight year. Similarly, Kotchman had a solid season with the bat but the Rays shouldn't rush to pay him, as there's a reason he's bounced from team to team. Let the market dictate Kotchman's price, then maybe you entertain bringing him back. The same applies for Damon. If the price is right on either, one of them can return to play first or DH opposite Alonso.
  • Trade B.J. Upton to the Nationals for Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina. Upton just can't justify his salary anymore on the Rays, and the Nationals have big interest in Upton. Desmond can fix the shortstop hole in Tampa, while Sean Rodriguez, Ben Zobrist and Bernadina can help fill the hole in the outfield left by Upton's departure.
  • Pick up Kyle Farnsworth's option and use the money saved from Shields and Upton to sign Mike Gonzalez. The Rays need a shutdown lefty in the bullpen, and Gonzalez can be that man. J.P. Howell used to be, but coming off a bad year, you need another, reliable, lefty in the bullpen. Then, use the rest of the money to bring back Kotchman or Damon, or go after someone like Jason Kubel.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:28 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Cincinnati Reds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Cincinnati Reds
Record: 79-83, 3rd place, 17 games back
Manager: Dusty Baker
Best hitter: Joey Votto -- .309/.416/.531 with 29 HR, 103 RBI
Best pitcher:Johnny Cueto -- 9-5, 24 GS, 156 IP, 2.31 ERA, 104 K, 47 BB

Coming off the 2010 National League Central title with pretty much the same team intact, the Reds were expected to challenge for the title again. However, the team could never quite get consistent starting pitching and were on the outside looking in by the All-Star break, close enough not to become sellers at the deadline and ultimately irrelevant for the last two months of the season.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Cueto took a step forward in his development and Votto showed he was anything but a one-hit wonder, while Brandon Phillips played at an All-Star level. Other than that, most every other Cincinnati Red took a step back from their 2010 performance. Bronson Arroyo and Drew Stubbs set dubious marks -- Arroyo allowing 46 homers and Stubbs striking out 205 times. Opening-day starter Edinson Volquez was twice demoted to the minors and third baseman Scott Rolen was limited to just 65 games. Lefty Travis Wood struggled in his second year and right-hander Homer Bailey has yet to find consistency. The team's gaping holes at shortstop and left field were magnified and its rotation wasn't as deep as promised in the spring. In all, disappointment was all around in 2011 as Cincinnati was unable to defend its crown.

2012 AUDIT

The Reds need to follow the lead of the Brewers, who decided to go for it in 2011 instead of worrying what would happen when Prince Fielder left. The Reds still have two more years of Votto, they need to take advantage of that and try to win before Votto goes to greener pastures, not fret about what's going to happen in two years. The Reds still need some help at the top of their rotation, a right-handed power bat for the middle of the lineup and to make a decision about left field and shortstop.

FREE AGENTS

CL Francisco Cordero (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
2B Brandon Phillips (team holds a $12 million option for 2012)
C Ramon Hernandez
SS Edgar Renteria
LHP Dontrelle Willis

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sell high on first baseman Yonder Alonso. In his first extensive big-league action, the 2008 first-rounder was impressive, hitting .330/.398/.545, displaying a keen understanding of the strike zone. That said, the Reds struggled to find places to play him, considering he's a first baseman and the guy they have there is one of the game's best players. Alonso played 16 games in left field, and aside from a rough weekend in Wrigley Field, didn't embarrass himself. He also played a game at third base without a single ball coming his way. In the end, he's a first baseman. That's where he'll thrive and that's where some team could certainly use him -- just not the Reds. See what you can get for Alonso in a package or straight up. At 24, he's young for a major leaguer, but old for a prospect. His highest value is this offseason.
  • Make a play for a true ace. Yes, Cueto has the potential to be an ace and he looked at times to be an ace this season. However, the Brewers could have said the same thing about Yovani Gallardo after last season. Be bold and bolster the top of the rotation. The Reds were second in the National League in runs scored and fifth in OPS -- there's enough offense to win if the pitching is sound. Sure up the rotation and by default you sure up the bullpen. The Brewers thought bold and they didn't have half the farm system the Reds have. You can send some combination Alonso, Billy Hamilton and one of the two catchers -- Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal -- away in a deal or two for true front-of-the-rotation help.
  • Pick up Phillips' option, but don't sign him to the long-term deal he's seeking. Phillips will win his third Gold Glove this year and is as good as anyone defensively. He also hit .300/.353/.457. However, he'll be looking for a Dan Uggla-like deal (five years, $62 million), and that's just not something the Reds can afford, especially at non-premium position like second base. He adjusted well to the leadoff role late in the season, hitting .350/.417/.573 in 39 games (38 starts) at the top of the order, but he's still a career .322 OBP guy and his .353 on-base percentage this season was a career-best by .021, aided by a career-best .322 BABIP. Bottom line is he's the best second baseman in the National League, but that comes at a price -- and a price the Reds won't be able to afford past this season.
  • Speaking of not overpaying a specific position, the team vastly overpaid for closer Cordero after the 2007 season, giving him a four-year, $46 million deal plus a $12 million club option for 2012. There's no reason to pick that option up, even though the team has reportedly been talking about an extension with Cordero. Any extension would likely be two years for more than the $12 million he'd make by just picking up the option for next year, but would include a yearly pay cut. Again, that's a move big market teams can afford, but the Reds cannot. Even with likely deferred payments (much like last season's Arroyo extension), Cordero is too costly. He's done his job well in his time in Cincinnati, solidifying a bullpen that had been in tatters before his arrival, but it's too much to pay for a closer. Follow the lead of the Rays and Diamondbacks who were able to rebuild bullpens for less than $12 million based on scrap parts. It's risky, but no more risky (and less expensive) than paying inflated prices for relievers.
  • The team held on to Hernandez even when other teams were desperate for catching. That means either nobody was that desperate for catching, or Hernandez and his agents already told the team he would not accept arbitration -- or both. If the Reds can offer Hernandez arbitration without danger of him accepting it, they'd likely receive two draft picks if Hernandez qualifies as a Type A free agent. With Ryan Hanigan signed through 2013 at a team-friendly rate and Mesoraco left with nothing left to prove in the minors, it's time to move on from Hernandez, who has been productive in his time in Cincinnati. They also have Grandal waiting in the wings, plus Tucker Barnhart, who won the Minor League Gold Glove at catcher.
  • If the Reds are going to go young at shortstop with Zack Cozart and in left field with Chris Heisey, they need to commit to it -- no messing around with another veteran shortstop that will just take up playing time, like Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera. In left, Heisey needs to play and play more, even against left-hander, even though he struggled against them. Juan Francisco has improved at third base and should be the first choice if Rolen isn't healthy.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 6:22 pm
 

Alonso to play left exclusively, drop weight

Alonso

By Evan Brunell

Reds prospect Yonder Alonso finally has a position.

After being drafted as a first baseman, but looking at Joey Votto blocking him in the spot, then trying his hand in left field and even briefly appearing at third, the Reds have told Alonso to work on left field in preparation for 2012, MLB.com reports.

Alonso has struggled to find playing time in Cincinnati, although his bat has shown the Reds the talent it can have in the lineup by hitting .386/.449/.614 in 78 plate appearances with four homers. Complicating things for Alonso is that left field has been a position in flux all season long with seven players appearing at the position thus far. Chris Heisey, Dave Sappelt and Alonso are now sharing what Fred Lewis once manned, along with Jonny Gomes. Manager Dusty Baker has been loathe to play Alonso at the position due to his defense, which has cost the team two runs already according to Defensive Runs Saved, while Ultimate Zone Rating tells a horrendous story.

For Alonso to have a chance at overtaking Heisey or Sappelt for the starting job next season, he'll have to lose weight in an attempt to shore up his defense by improving his defense, which the team has requested of the 24-year-old.

“Definitely my body fat needs to go down to be an adequate left fielder,” Alonso said. “I will work my butt off in left field.”

Alonso plans to work out with Cardinals center fielder John Jay, a fellow Hurricane from the University of Miami. The outfield instructor from Miami's baseball team will coordinate the workouts in order to drop 10-to-15 pounds from his current 230-pound frame.

“In the off-season, my plans are getting my body in check and work very hard to transform my body to play left field,” Alonso said. “Last year was more of a first base-left field type. It wasn’t 100 percent left field. This year is 100 percent left field. I hired a chef. I talked to a trainer already. I’m putting all of my efforts and stuff into my career and will make sure I am 100 percent ready to be the left fielder.”

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:48 am
 

Pepper: Is Rivera's sucessor Robertson?

Robertson

By Evan Brunell

Mariano's successor? The other day, I read a piece suggesting that the Yankees could theoretically sign Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason, have him set up Mariano Rivera's final year in town and then take over.

It's possible. But it's more probably that Rivera's successor is already on the team, and I'm not talking about Rafael Soriano.

“There are a lot of similarities there in how they throw their fastballs,” catcher Russell Martin told the New York Post when asked to compare Rivera and setup man David Robertson, who has broken through in a big way this season with a 1.23 ERA in 58 1/3 innings, striking out 89 and walking 31. That ERA is unsustainably low, but speaks to the impact the righty has had in the bullpen. Robertson is no Rivera -- who is? -- but those kind of strikeout numbers would work quite well in a closer's role. While Robertson walks a bit too much, that hasn't bothered other walk-prone closers such as Carlos Marmol, even if it increases the chances of an occasional blowup.

“Maybe that can happen a few years down the road,” Robertson said of replacing Rivera. “But I don’t have to worry about that. Mo’s not leaving. It would be cool to do [to be the closer]. But we have No. 42 and he ain’t leaving.”

Offended: Incoming Astros owner Jim Crane is "offended" by both the delay in being approved and the public perception of Crane -- especially when details of his divorce leaked out, invading his personal life. Crane also noted that his contract to buy the team expires on Nov. 30. (Houston Chronicle)

Power rankings: Four unlikely candidates to manage the Cubs top the latest power rankings on the subject. GMs Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane, Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman lead off the list that has a distinct Boston flavor to it. (Chicago Tribune)

No more I-Rod: Ivan Rodriguez likely won't catch for the remainder of 2011, as the Nats want to take a look at their future in Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. Rodriguez hopes to catch at least four more years. While that's a stretch, he should catch long enough to net hit No. 3,000 -- he's at 2,842. (Washington Post)

Doubles machine: Not only do Royals outfielders lead baseball in outfield assists by a wide margin, but each of them also has at least 39 doubles. That makes them the third team in baseball history to reach the feat, along with the 1998 Angels and 1932 Phillies. But both these teams had an outfielder with 39 doubles, with Melky Cabrera there already. So on his next one, the Royals will set history. Oh, and DH Billy Butler is two away from 40, so four players could reach the mark for K.C. That would be the fourth such time a team pulled that off. If they can all reach 42, it will be the first time ever a team has accomplished such a feat. (Rany on the Royals)

Braden shows up: Dallas Braden wasn't too keen on showing his face in the Oakland clubhouse after undergoing season-ending surgery in May, much to the chagrin of his teammates. GM Billy Beane interviewed and spoke to Braden, as the San Francisco Chronicle writes, leading to this quote from Braden on Beane's encouragement: "Makes you feel like less of a loser."

Alonso's story: Background stories about Cuban defectors always has two components: the harrowing departure from Cuba, plus how grateful the players are to be in the majors. Rather than being a cliche, it's a reminder of the challenges that one faces in life. Yonder Alonso is no exception, whose family bolted Cuba when he was 9 years old. (MLB.com)

More homers than walks: Prior to the season, 99 instances of 20-plus homers with less than 20 walks have occurred in baseball history. Now, eight are on pace to add to the total, with 50 coming since 1991 in further evidence how the game has changed and tilted toward power. Alfonso Soriano is on pace for his fourth such distinction, plus Mark Trumbo. Vernon Wells and J.J. Hardy both have the same amount of homers and walks, while Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Michael Morse and Adam Jones are threatening. (MLB.com)

Glad you left: Which teams are sick of seeing certain players? Here's a full list, led by Washington being crushed by Mike Stanton this season with a 1.087 slugging percentage. (The Hardball Times)

Too close: Baseball journalist Marcos Breton has admitted he grew too close to Miguel Tejada, which has given him unique perspective on his release instead of, as he put it, "[being] too harsh on some subjects for this column, and I promised myself to reflect on Tejada the next time someone stumbles publicly, as all of us will, when life inevitably brings us down to size." (Sacramento Bee)

Try, try again: Tim Wakefield will try yet again for win No. 200, currently slated to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays. (Providence Journal)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Pepper: Arizona pulling away from champs

Daniel Hudson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Giants' last stand may come this weekend -- if they're even still in it by the time the Diamondbacks visit AT&T Park.

You may have noticed the Diamondbacks are starting to pull away in the National League West, winning their last seven games and increasing their lead in the division to five games. I'm still not sure exactly how it's happened, but you've got to appreciate what Kirk Gibson and his team have done.

Whichever team wins this division will do it by winning the division -- the Giants don't play anyone outside their division the entire month of September, while the Diamondbacks have three games against Pittsburgh in September, but no other games outside the division. What that means? A lot of the Padres and Dodgers and Rockies -- teams with a combined 29 games below .500.

One thing to keep in mind if you like trends, after the Diamondbacks won seven games earlier this month, they went out and lost their next six. If that trend repeats, it'd mean a sweep in San Francisco, which would put the Giants right back into it. But if San Francisco can't score more than a run or two in a game, they won't be sweeping anyone.

Real hero: You hear the word "hero" with sports way too much -- but it's an appropriate use of the word for Emmanuel Marlow. Who is Marlow? He's a vendor at Nationals Park who saved a choking fan on Thursday. Marlow, 49, used the Heimlich maneuver to save the young fan -- then went back to doing his job. Or his second job. Marlow also cares for patients with Parkinson's in his first job. Really, a great story and a real hero. [Washington Post]

Fan scare: Speaking of fan safety, a young fan was hit in the face by a foul ball at Citi Field on Monday. The Marlins' Greg Dobbs hit the ball and said he was told the boy did not suffer broken bones or had his sight damaged, so that's good news. Dobbs gave the kid's mother a bat and Mets second baseman Justin Turner gave him his jersey -- but that's a pretty high price to pay for a jersey and bat. Luckily the boy is OK. [MLB.com]

Perez impresses: The Royals have had their fair share of hyped prospects, so it's OK if you weren't too aware of catcher Salvador Perez. You may want to get used to hearing his name. Since being called up from Triple-A Omaha, he's started 16 of 18 games for Kansas City -- and he's hitting .295/.333/.443, including a 3-for-4 performance and his first home run in Monday's victory over the Tigers. Royals manager Ned Yost said he's "hard to take out of the lineup," and expects him to play 140 games a year. Perez hadn't played above Class A until this season and has had an incredible year, ending in the big leagues. [Kansas City Star]

The new Josh Beckett: Marriage has changed Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, he said. No longer is baseball his top priority -- but he's been even better with it as No. 2 in his life. [WEEI.com]

Standing pat: Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he "doubts" the team will make a deal before the Aug. 31 trade deadline. Phillies place on the waiver line (last in the National League) and payroll limitations make any move unlikely. [Philadelphia Daily News]

Untested: Monday night was supposed to be an experiment for the Reds' Yonder Alonso. The Reds rookie received his first professional start at third base on Monday night but didn't have a single ball hit his way. While it was surprising, it was part of the plan. Dusty Baker said the team made Alonso's first start at third during a Homer Bailey start on purpose, as "guys don't usually pull Homer." They didn't, so consider the results of the experiment inconclusive. And don't expect a repeat of Alonso at the hot corner on Tuesday with Bronson Arroyo on the mound against the Phillies. [Dayton Daily News]

Carp may stay: Even if the Cardinals don't pick up Chris Carpenter's $15 million option, MLB.com's Matt Leach doesn't see the team letting the right-hander leave via free agency.

Feeling blue: The Mets will wear retro uniforms for their 50th anniversary next season and then add a blue jersey in 2013. [ESPNNewYork.com]

Garfoose is loose: The Rays released minor league right-hander Dirk Hayhurst, which wouldn't mean much if he weren't the author of the very entertaining Bullpen Diaries and a prolific blogger and Twitter user. Best of luck to Hayhurst -- because if he's out of baseball, he may be out of stories, and that would be a shame. [DirkHayhurst.com]

Stats are fun: Yahoo's Jeff Passan has 25 great, nerdy stats in his latest column. If any pitchers are reading this, for all that is holy, don't throw Joey Votto a fastball. 

Feliciano done? Left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano may need career-ending shoulder surgery to repair his a tear in his shoulder. It will certainly end Feliciano's season, but could cost him more. He signed a two-year, $8 million contract before the season and hasn't thrown a pitch for the Yankees. He could get $8 million for just signing his name if he can't come back from this injury. [ESPNNewYork.com]

Socks appeal: There's a proper way to wear a baseball uniform and too often you don't see it -- instead you get the pajama pants look. Hunter Pence's high socks are gaining some attention in Philadelphia. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 4:55 pm
 

On Deck: Two big NL East returns

OD

By Matt Snyder

The Mets and Marlins kicked things off with an afternoon game, as it was the front end of a doubleheader. That still leaves us with 12 night games, a healthy slate for a Monday night. Follow all the action live on our CBSSports.com scoreboard.

Hamels on the hill/Over Yonder: Phillies starter Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.62) will return from a quick stint on the disabled list Monday night. He was sidelined with inflammation to his left shoulder. Now the task will be making sure he's strong for the postseason, as there's little doubt the Phillies are headed to the best record in the NL. Monday's opponent is the Reds and Homer Bailey (7-5, 4.44) will be on the mound. An interesting note here from the Reds' side of things is that Yonder Alonso is starting at third base. The 24-year-old slugger is a defensively liability pretty much everywhere except first -- and there's even some debate to that. Considering the Reds have a decent player already at first, they're trying to find a new spot for Alonso. He's hitting .467 with three home runs and a 1.422 OPS in 36 plate appearances since being recalled, so that's why the Reds are experimenting. The issue: He's never played third, not even in the minors. Should be interesting, to say the least. Phillies at Reds, 7:10 p.m. ET.

Jose, Jose Jose Jose! He didn't get back in time to start the first game of the double-dip, but Jose Reyes will return to the Mets' lineup for the nightcap. As I wrote Sunday, Reyes' return to the lineup is compelling due to his impending free agency. He's hitting .336/.377/.507 with 34 steals and 80 runs in 98 games and is still leading the majors with 16 triples, but health questions might mitigate how much money Reyes commands on the open market. Ricky Nolasco (9-9, 4.30) is the Marlins' starter while Dillon Gee (11-5, 4.37) gets the nod for the Mets. Marlins at Mets, 7:40 p.m. ET (if not later, as it's the second game of the doubleheader).

Hurly Buehrle: The White Sox have won three straight and trail the Tigers by six in the AL Central. They can't wait much longer to get on a serious run, or else they'll be too far back come mid-September, so the time is now to build a huge winning streak. Monday, Mark Buehrle (10-6, 3.19) will be the White Sox's starter against the Twins. If recent history is any indication, a win should be coming. Buehrle has a 0.39 ERA and 0.61 WHIP in three starts against the Twins this season. On the flip-side, the White Sox have owned Twins starter Kevin Slowey (0-2, 6.84) over the course of his career, as Slowey has a 6.39 ERA in 38 innings against the White Sox. Still, games aren't won on paper or past history. Twins at White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 24, 2011 2:53 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Burroughs hits 1st homer since '05

Sean Burroughs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sean Burroughs, Diamondbacks: Burroughs' first home run since April 30, 2005, accounted for the only two runs of Tuesday's 2-0 victory over the Nationals, snapping Arizona's six-game losing streak. Ian Kennedy pitched seven shutout innings, but it was Burroughs' shot with one on and one out in the seventh off of Jordan Zimmermann that was the story of the game. Burroughs, 30, hadn't been in the big leagues since 2006 before being called up earlier this year after a disappointing start to his career. Before signing with the Diamondbacks this past offseason, he was battling substance abuse.

Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: Choo celebrated the birth of his third child Monday and then had a big day Tuesday, going 4 for 8 in a doubleheader against the Mariners, including a walk-off three-run homer in the first game that delivered the Indians a 7-5 victory and snapped a four-game losing streak for Cleveland. The Indians lost the second game, but Choo added another homer, as well as a triple in the nightcap. Choo finished the day with five RBI and even hit a double during Tuesday's earthquake. Indians manager Manny Acta called Choo earlier on Tuesday to make sure his outfielder was available to play -- luckily for the Indians, he was available.

Yonder Alonso, Reds: Dusty Baker gave Joey Votto a rare day off Tuesday, letting the rookie Alonso get the start in South Florida, where he grew up and played college ball at Miami. Not only did Alonso homer on the first pitch he saw on the night, but he also broke a tie with a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning in front of his friends and family for a 8-6 Reds victory


Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays: The Blue Jays' right-hander has some of the best stuff in the big leagues, but the 27-year-old has never found any kind of consistency. In his last start before Tuesday, Morrow struck out a dozen Mariners in six innings. Tuesday he gave up nearly that many hits in just 4 2/3 innings against the Royals. Kansas City had two doubles, a triple and two home runs among their 11 hits in the 25 batters Morrow faced in a 6-4 Toronto loss.

Kyle Lohse, Cardinals: Coming into the game, Lohse had allowed just three earned runs over his last 13 1/3 innings -- he gave up that many before he retired a batter on Tuesday on a three-run homer by Matt Kemp. Lohse allowed four more runs in the second inning and then a solo homer to Rod Barajas in the fourth inning. Lohse was lifted after three innings in St. Louis' 13-2 loss to the Dodgers.

White Sox: Sloppy play all around hurt Chicago in a 5-4 loss to the Angels, starting with two first-inning errors and then a mental mistake in the ninth. Peter Bourjos reached in the first inning on a throwing error by Alexei Ramirez and then scored on a fielding error by Juan Pierre in the same inning. In the seventh inning, catcher Tyler Flowers avoided a double play by taking off before Brent Morel's grounder, but got greedy by trying to advance to third where he was thrown out by first baseman Mark Trumbo to end the inning. Then in the ninth, second baseman Gordon Beckham failed to cover second on Alberto Callaspo's single, allowing Callaspo to advance to second base, taking away the double play. After an intentional walk to Maircer Izturis, Bourjos singled in the game-ending run.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Votto: Superstars 'overrated' in baseball

Joey VottoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Joey Votto is not only the reigning National League MVP, he's also one of the most introspective players in the game. When you talk to Votto, he usually considers the question, thinks about the answer and gives you an answer you may not have expected.

He's not the easiest of interviews because Votto approaches them like his at-bats, he's always thinking and evaluating not only what's coming at him, but also what repercussions his actions may have. So when he talks, it's usually interesting, but it's hardly ever rote.

Enter today's column by Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Most of the column is the usual woe-is-me small markets can't compete whining. But what's interesting is Votto responses. This past offseason Votto signed a three-year extension, covering his remaining arbitration years and still allowing him to become a free agent following the 2013 season. At that point, the Reds may not be able to afford him.

But Votto points out, that may not kill the Reds. Here's Votto on the impact of an MVP: "You're never going to win if you put too much emphasis on your superstars. It's such a shared responsibility to win. I won the National League MVP, and in 85 percent of the games I wasn't changing the game. In the NFL, if I'm the MVP quarterback, I'm changing 12 out of the 16 games, maybe higher. Superstars can be overrated in this game."

It's an interesting thought. In basketball, it's damning if a player like Charles Barkley never wins a championship. In football, quarterbacks are judged more by rings than ratings. But in baseball, some of the game's greats are still considered greats, even without winning a title. Among them, Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Carl Yastrzemski and Ken Griffey Jr. have 12 MVPs and no World Series rings. LeBron James is still considered a failure because he doesn't have a title and Dan Marino's lack of a title is brought up as much as his records.

Votto also realizes that he'll have a huge payday coming up, and even if he leaves, the Reds will have gotten a bargain for his first six years in the big leagues.

"Over that first six-year span, you're probably paying a guy 15 to 25 percent of what he's worth. He’s getting the minimum for three years, then 40, 60, 80 percent, roughly," Votto told Daugherty.

"You get to call a player up, whenever you want. You get to delay his [arbitration] clock. It can be very fair for all the small market teams. Look at Minnesota. Tampa Bay has had a pretty good stretch. Payroll matches market, with some exceptions. Baseball is doing a pretty good job."

The reason this is brought up is that many see Votto as the catalyst for what the Reds could do in the offseason trade market. He's an MVP in the prime of his career, cost-controlled for two more years. The Reds have a young first baseman in Yonder Alonso who may not be Votto's equal, but he's certainly a capable player (who can't play another position) that will be cheaper for the next several years. Add Alonso at first with whatever other upgrades Votto would bring in return and the Reds could find themselves better, even without their best player. It would certainly stink for the marketing department, at least initially, unless the gamble paid off in wins. Wins are a better marketing tool than an individual.

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