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Matsui Remains a Possibility for Contenders

Most contenders didn’t get a shot at some of the biggest bats to hit the waiver wire. Earlier this week the Twins placed two desirable hitters, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel, on trade waivers, and both were claimed by teams on the fringe of contention. Kubel will stay put, while Thome heads to Cleveland. Left in the dust were teams such as the Angels, Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, and the entire National League. Yet if any of these teams want to add a left-handed bench hitter there is one readily available.

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 25th

Yankees 22, A’s 9

Moving the Needle: Russell Martin‘s grand slam put the Yankees on top, +.431 WPA. The A’s had Phil Hughes‘s number, tagging him for six runs in 2.2 innings. It was 7-1 by the end of the third, which, after the way the first two games of this series had gone, seemed a lot bigger. But then the Yankees battled back the way they know how: with the homer. Martin hit a solo shot in the fourth, Robinson Cano smacked a grand slam in the fifth, and then Martin added a grand slam of his own in the sixth, which brought the Yankees all the way back. It was 10-7 then, but as the final score indicates the runs kept flowing. In the seventh they added six runs, and in the eighth they added another six, including another grand slam. The Ynakees set a major league record with three grand slams in one game.

Notables

Curtis Granderson: 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 BB. His homer was the record-breaking grand slam.

Derek Jeter: 3 for 6, 1 3B, 1 BB. He’s now hitting .358/.405/.480 since coming off the DL.


Also in this issue: Orioles 6, Twins 1 | Braves 8, Cubs 3 | Diamondbacks 8, Nationals 1 | Tigers 2, Rays 0 | Cardinals 8, Pirates 4 | Red Sox 6, Rangers 0 | Astros 3, Giants 1 | Royals 9, Blue Jays 6

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 24th

A’s 6, Yankees 4

Moving the Needle: Coco Crisp‘s three-run homer in the 10th gives the A’s a convincing lead, +.483 WPA. Crisp started the game right when he homered in the first. The Yankees, of course, covered that run, and eventually took the lead. But CC Sabathia had some trouble in the eighth and allowed the tying run to score. Each team scored one more, bringing the game to extra innings. The A’s singled twice, and then Crisp hit a monster shot to right, into the second deck. The homer gave the A’s all the lead they’d need, even though the Yanks did manage to put up another run in the 10th.

Notables

Nick Swisher: 2 for 3, 2 HR, 1 BB. He also hit a homer in the previous game, and came within about two feet of a walk-off grand slam in that one.

Scott Sizemore: 4 for 4, 2 2B. He and Crisp combined for perfect days.


Also in this issue: Angels 8, White Sox 0 | Cubs 3, Braves 2 | Mariners 9, Indians 2 | Rockies 7, Astros 6 | Orioles 6, Twins 1 | Marlins 6, Reds 5 | Reds 3, Marlins 2 | Rays 3, Tigers 2 | Diamondbacks 4, Nationals 3 | Red Sox 13, Rangers 2 | Mets 7, Phillies 4 | Blue Jays 4, Royals 3 | Pirates 2, Brewers 0 | Dodgers 9, Cardinals 4 | Giants 2, Padres 1

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Beltre Not Close to Returning, No Problem for Rangers

A little taste of success, when combined with an expanding budget, can make for an interesting off-season. The Texas Rangers experienced that in the off-season, first bidding nine figures for Cliff Lee, and then signing Adrian Beltre to a five-year, $80 million contract. Yet it’s one lesser move, and a non-move, that have really spurred the Rangers lately.

After the Rangers signed Beltre and essentially removed Michael Young from third base, the third position he’s played for them, he predictably requested a trade. Rumors of a Rockies trade abounded, but never came to fruition. Eventually both parties agreed to drop it, instead using Young at DH and wherever needed in the infield.

About 20 days after the Beltre signing, the Rangers swung a trade, swapping reliever Frank Francisco for Mike Napoli. The Blue Jays had recently acquired Napoli from the Angels, but decided that they’d rather have Francisco in their bullpen than Napoli as their DH and sometimes catcher. The Rangers, who were likely dismayed to have Francisco accept their arbitration offer, were glad to add Napoli’s bat, even if it would be tough to find him playing time.

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Curtis Granderson’s Defense and His MVP Prospects

As expected, the campaign has begun in New York. Even prior to his inside the park home run on Sunday, Yankees scribes have started penning the case for their hometown man, Curtis Granderson, to win the AL MVP Award. The case makes plenty of sense from an old school perspective. Granderson is the best player on a playoff-bound team, and has generally outproduced his fellow playoff-bound peers at the plate. With 35 homers he trails only Jose Bautista, who won’t sniff the postseason. That he leads the league in runs and RBI furthers his case among those who actually vote for the award.

The statistically inclined audience tends to ignore most of the above factors. There are plenty of other issues at stake, such as how many runs the player created irrespective of his teammates. There’s also defense. That’s why WAR is often the place a statistically inclined fan will start the MVP conversation. Granderson doesn’t fare as well here, ranking fifth in the AL with 6.1 WAR. Worse, he trails four players in his own division. But WAR does contain a one-year sample of UZR, and we know that one year of UZR can provide misleading results. Is this the case for Granderson?

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 22nd

Dodgers 2, Cardinals 1

Moving the Needle: Aaron Miles ties the game with a triple in the ninth, +.514 WPA. It appeared as though Lance Berkman‘s second inning homer would hold up, as the Cardinals held that 1-0 lead into the ninth. But their bullpen could not hold it. Miles drove in the tying run with his triple, and Rod Barajas followed with an RBI ground out to give them the lead. Javy Guerra picked up the save, though facing Corey Patterson in Matt Holliday‘s stead helped plenty.

Notables

Chris Carpenter: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K. It was all going so well until he plunked the leadoff hitter in the ninth.

James Loney: 3 for 3. They were all singles, yes, but that’s still seven hits in his last two games.


Also in this issue: Mariners 3, Indians 2 | Braves 3, Cubs 0 | Orioles 4, Twins 1 | Rockies 9, Astros 5 | Tigers 5, Rays 2 | Nationals 4, Diamondbacks 1 | Rangers 4, Red Sox 0 | Phillies 10, Mets 0 | Brewers 8, Pirates 1 | Pirates 9, Brewers 2

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 21st, 2011

Giants 6, Astros 4

Moving the Needle: Pablo Sandoval‘s two-run homer puts the Giants ahead in the 11th, +.492 WPA. The Giants tied the game at four in the fourth, and then waited seven more innings to score another run. Both teams threatened in the ninth, loading the bases, but neither came through. In the 11th the Giants got a one-out walk, and then two batters later Sandoval blasted them to victory. Ramon Ramirez, filling in for the injured Brian Wilson, pitched a perfect bottom half.

Notables

J.D. Martinez: 3 for 5, 1 2B. He drove in two runs. J.D. Martin, on the other hand, is … I have no idea.

Brandon Belt: 4 for 5, 1 HR. He drove in three. Aubrey Huff should be getting the Aaron Rowand treatment soon enough.


Also in this issue: Angels 7, Orioles 1 | Braves 1, Diamondbacks 0 | White Sox 10, Rangers 0 | Cardinals 6, Cubs 2 | Tigers 8, Indians 7 | Rockies 5, Dodgers 3 | Red Sox 6, Royals 1 | Yankees 3, Twins 0 | Nationals 5, Phillies 0 | Blue Jays 1, A’s 0 | Brewers 6, Mets 2 | Rays 8, Mariners 7 | Reds 5, Pirates 4 | Padres 4, Marlins 3

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 18th

Angels 2, Rangers 1

Moving the Needle: Mark Trumbo delivers a win with a walk-off homer, +.690 WPA. The Angels were three outs from getting swept at home by the Rangers, which would have effectively ended their chances at contention. But Torii Hunter led off the ninth with a single, and then Trumbo blasted a walk-off homer. The Angels are still 11 behind Boston in the loss column for the AL Wild Card, and they’re six behind Texas in the West. Somehow, seven and 12 seems a degree worse, even though it’s just a one-game difference.

Notables

Jered Weaver: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K. His only blemish was a high changeup that Mike Napoli blasted a good 450 feet.

Colby Lewis: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. That’s just what the Rangers needed to complete the sweep. Unfortunately, the revamped bullpen can’t be perfect every game.


Also in this issue: Braves 1, Giants 0 | Indians 4, White Sox 2 | Dodgers 5, Brewers 1 | Red Sox 4, Royals 3 | Nationals 3, Reds 1 | Yankees 8, Twins 4 | Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 1 | Blue Jays 7, A’s 0 | Padres 3, Marlins 1

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Royals Sign Francoeur to Keep Outfield in Place

In a move that shocked no one, this morning the Royals signed Jeff Francoeur to a two-year extension. The deal will pay him $13.5 million between 2012 and 2013, which is a bit higher than I had guessed when writing about Francoeur earlier in the week. But it’s still a decent haul for a free-agent-to-be, and despite the immediately negative reaction to the deal, it could work out for the Royals.

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 17th

Reds 2, Nationals 1

Moving the Needle: Wilson Ramos grounds into a game-ending double play, -.530 WPA. Yes, despite trailing by one, the Nationals had a 53 percent chance of winning the game in the ninth. That’s because they had loaded the bases with one out. But Ramos hit into a 4-6-3 double play, ending the game. Ryan Zimmerman‘s leadoff homer went for naught.

Notables

Ross Detwiler: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K. It’s not the prettiest of starts, but the Nats will take it from the former No. 1 pick.

Johnny Cueto: 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K. He continues to defy his peripherals, though in this game they were just fine.


Also in this issue: Rangers 4, Angels 3 | Giants 7, Braves 5 | Rays 4, Red Sox 0 | Rockies 12, Marlins 5 | Indians 4, White Sox 1 | Astros 4, Cubs 3 | Twins 6, Tigers 5 | Brewers 3, Dodgers 1 | Royals 5, Yankees 4 | A’s 6, Orioles 5 | Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 2 | Blue Jays 5, Mariner 1 | Cardinals 7, Pirates 2 | Mets 7, Padres 3

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The Complete Game Loss

The first one came early. In the daytime portion of yesterday’s doubleheader against the Rays and Red Sox, James Shields was on his game. He struck out six and walked only one, allowing three runs through eight innings. Unfortunately for him, the Rays scored only one run, leaving him tagged with the loss despite the effort. Later that evening Roy Halladay pitched a typically dominant game, allowing one run through eight. But the Diamondbacks rallied for two in the ninth, both off Halladay, leaving him also saddled with a loss even though he completed the game.

Seeing two complete game losses on the same day is a rare event for sure. Perhaps it’s not as rare as three players hitting two triples in a night, or teams walking off five times, or a triple play on two consecutive days, but it’s a rarity for sure. The complete game loss itself, though, is not so rare. In fact, of the 142 complete games this year 27.5% have ended with losses.

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 16th

Astros 6, Cubs 5

Moving the Needle: Brian Bogusevic plays the hero with a walk-off grand slam, +.817 WPA. It hasn’t been a smooth 2011 for Carlos Marmol. At one point he lost his job as closer, but he’s since regained it. Last night he came out for the ninth, and for a while he looked like typical Marmol: a few singles, a walk, a wild pitch. It amounted to a bases loaded, one out situation. On a 2-2 pitch Marmol delivered one outside, and Bogusevic put a charge into it, sending it well over the 404 sign in center to win the game.

Notables

Carlos Pena: 2 for 2, 2 2B, 2 BB.

Jimmy Paredes: 2 for 4, 2 2B. He’s had a nice little run since getting promoted to the majors in late July.


Also in this issue: Rangers 7, Angels 3 | Braves 2, Giants 1 | Red Sox 3, Rays 1 | Rays 6, Red Sox 2 | Marlins 6, Rockies 5 | White Sox 8, Indians 7 | Brewers 2, Dodgers 1 | Tigers 7, Twins 1 | National 6, Reds 4 | Yankees 9, Royals 7 | Diamondbacks 3, Phillies 2 | A’s 8, Orioles 4 | Pirates 5, Cardinals 4 | Blue Jays 13, Mariners 7 | Padres 6, Mets 1

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 15th

Braves 5, Giants 4

Moving the Needle: Freddie Freeman walks off with a two-RBI single, +.733 WPA. There is nothing quite like the multi-run come-from-behind victory in the bottom of the ninth. The Braves got that last night, as they entered the frame down two. A single, walk, and sac set them up for the tie, but Martin Prado‘s single only scored one. A walk and a strikeout brought Freeman to the plate, and he grounded one up the middle to bring home the two winning runs.

Notables

Madison Bumgarner: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K. It seems as though his bullpen has failed him after quite a few solid starts this year. Brian Wilson ended up blowing the save.

Tim Hudson: 8 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 2 K. He got 15 ground balls, which is pretty standard. But he also allowed 11 balls in the air, which is not.


Also in this issue: Rangers 8, Angels 4 | Twins 9, Tigers 6 | Rockies 7, Marlins 4 | Yankees 7, Royals 4 | Cubs 4, Astros 3 | Orioles 6, A’s 2 | Brewers 3, Dodgers 0 | Mariners 6, Blue Jays 5 | Pirates 6, Cardinals 2 | Mets 5, Padres 4

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Sticking with the Royals Veteran Outfield

The pieces are starting to fall into place for the Royals. They’ve started unveiling their youth movement this year, bringing up a number of their top prospects. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Danny Duffy lead the charge of high-end prospects who have debuted in 2011, but they’re not the only newcomers from the highly touted farm system. Jeremy Jeffress, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, Salvador Perez, Johnny Giavotella, and others have contributed in 2011. More will follow in September, and we could see a turnaround really start in 2012.

Even though the Royals do have plenty of potential in their young players, they will not fill the entire roster with 23-year-olds. Every team needs some kind of veteran presence. The Royals do have some experienced players on their roster. In fact, their entire outfield is currently composed of players in their late 20s. These three players — Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, and Jeff Francoeur — have led the team in almost every offensive category this season, and it could be worth their while to keep a few of them around as their youngsters grow into major leaguers.

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 14th

Blue Jays 5, Angels 4

Moving the Needle: Brett Lawrie ties the game with a double in the ninth, +.414 WPA. Lawrie might have gone nuts after his first career grand slam, but in terms of winning games this one was just as big. With one out in the ninth he doubled home the tying run, sending the game to extra innings. The Blue Jays won the game when Edwin Encarnacion singled with two on and two outs.

Notables

Jose Bautista: 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 BB. With both of the players trailing him in the AL HR race not playing (thanks to rain) Bautista extended his lead.

Peter Bourjos: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B. If the kid could take a walk he’d be a superb leadoff hitter (which is where he hit yesterday).


Also in this issue: Orioles 8, Tigers 5 | Diamondbacks 5, Mets 3 | White Sox 6, Royals 2 | Cubs 6, Braves 5 | Rangers 7, A’s 6 | Padres 7, Reds 3 | Mariners 5, Red Sox 3 | Giants 5, Marlins 2 | Dodgers 7, Astros 0 | Brewers 2, Pirates 1 | Cardinals 6, Rockies 2

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 11th

Diamondbacks 8, Astros 5

Moving the Needle: Paul Goldschmidt‘s two-run homer ties the game in the ninth, +.489 WPA. It was the kind of hit that WPA graphs were made for: bottom nine, two out, runner on first, down two, pinch hitter for the pitcher at the plate. Goldschmidt looked at the first four pitches of his AB, working the count to 2-2. He then fouled off a couple before belting a game-tying home run. In the bottom of the 10th Chris Young won the game with a homer of his own.

Notables

Jason Bourgeois: 3 for 5, 1 3B. He scored twice. He had been 0 for the series.

Ryan Roberts: 2 for 5, 1 2B. He has career highs in just about every counting stat, except singles and triples. He’s two shy on singles, one on triples.


Also in this issue: White Sox 6, Orioles 3 | Tigers 4, Indians 3 | Cubs 4, Nationals 3 | Yankees 6, Angels 5 | Reds 2, Rockies 1 | Rays 4, Royals 1 | Padres 3, Mets 2 | A’s 10, Blue Jays 3 | Cardinals 5, Brewers 2

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The Chances of a Wandy Rodriguez Trade

This past off-season it seemed as though Wandy Rodriguez would sit near the top of available pitchers at the deadline. The Astros were going nowhere, and Rodriguez was set to hit free agency after the season. But out of nowhere the Astros signed him to a three-year, $34 million contract that covered 2011 through 2013. In itself that’s still a tradable contract, but the $13 million option changed the story. If traded it becomes a player option, which makes a deal far less likely. Written that way, the inclusion of the option clause made it seem as though the Astros intended to keep Rodriguez. And yet here we are in August, hearing talk of a possible waiver trade.

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 10th

Rays 8, Royals 7

Moving the Needle: Sam Fuld triples and then scores the walk-off run on an error, +.910 WPA. This really should have been divided, with some positive going to Fuld and some negative going to Johnny Giavotella. The Rays trailed 7-3 in the bottom of the ninth, but they got to work right away, riding two singles and a double to a run. A ground out and a single brought home two more, bringing them to within one. Fuld then came up with two outs and crushed one to the wall in right-center. That brought the runner around to tie the game, but more importantly it drew a throw as Fuld slid into third. Giavotella’s throw, however, got away from Mike Moustakas, and Fuld was able to dash home to score the winning run.

Notables

Melky Cabrera: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 HR. He drove in five runs. This furthers his incredible bounce back year.

Matt Joyce: 3 for 5, 1 HR. He scored twice, including once in the ninth.


Also in this issue: Orioles 6, White Sox 4 | Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3 | Indians 10, Tigers 3 | Cubs 4, Nationals 2 | Twins 5, Red Sox 2 | Reds 3, Rockies 2 | Yankees 9, Angels 3 | Braves 6, Marlins 2 | Phillies 9, Dodgers 8 | Mariners 4, Rangers 3 | Padres 9, Mets 5 | Blue Jays 8, A’s 4 | Brewers 5, Cardinals 1 | Pirates 9, Giants 2

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Padres Could Have A Loud Off-Season

It’s amazing how one poor year can change the way a franchise operates. Prior to 2009 the Padres actually maintained a reasonable payroll, usually in the middle third of the league. In 2008 they actually raised it to over $70 million for the first time, after division titles in 2005 and 2006, and the Game 163 loss to the Rockies in 2007. But when the Padres finished 63-99 in 2008 ownership slashed payroll by $30 million, and then cut another $6 million in 2010. This year they added a bit, but still come in under the $50 million mark. That’s about to change, though.

Yesterday Padres CEO Jeff Moorad spoke to the media about his plans for the future. The report, as written by San Diego Union-Tribune scribe Bill Center, contains plenty of nuggets, but what stands out is Moorad’s stance on the Padres’ future payroll. Next year it “will start with a five,” and will increase to $70 million by 2016. Given the Padres current commitments, it could take a considerable off-season effort to get payroll to the $50 million level.

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for August 9th

Angels 6, Yankees 4

Moving the Needle: Bobby Abreu homers to break the tie in the ninth, +.422 WPA. Last night Abreu accounted for 33% of his season’s home run total. He twice punished the Yanks with the long ball, the first to tie the game at one, and the second to put the Angels ahead against Mariano Rivera. That’s two straight blown games for Rivera.

Notables

Derek Jeter: 1 for 4, 1 BB. He hit a two-RBI, game-tying single in the seventh, and then walked in the ninth.

Jeff Mathis: 1 for 2, 1 2B. He had two RBI with the double


Also in this issue: White Sox 4, Orioles 3 | Diamondbacks 11, Astros 9 | Indians 3, Tigers 2 | Nationals 3, Cubs 1 | Red Sox 4, Twins 3 | Rockies 3, Reds 2 | Braves 4, Marlins 3 | Rays 4, Royals 0 | Phillies 2, Dodgers 1 | Rangers 7, Mariners 6 | Mets 5, Padres 4 | A’s 4, Blue Jays 1 | Brewers 5, Cardinals 3 | Giants 6, Pirates 0

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