Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-8-19

8/19/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Top of the 1st
CC 4 CYA OR…?
Need a lesson on texting on your cell phone? Start by sending this text message to those writers who get to vote for post-season hardware: CC 4 CYA OR…? Which means Can CC Sabathia win the NL Cy Young Award if he keeps his terrific pitching as a Milwaukee Brewer?

Last night, CC threw 130 pitches in pitching another complete game, defeating the Astros, 9-3. The big lefty improved his record to 8-0 after nine starts and now leads the NL in complete games with five. Last night, CC had to work, probably too much. He threw130 pitches, which he thought was a career high. Not only that, he lumbered (Sabathia defines that word) from first-to-third on a double by Ray Durham in the 4th and slid into the base in a fashion that was felt in Beijing. Durham said, “I wish I would have hit a home run instead of making him run the bases like that,”

Despite pitching an 11-hitter, Sabathia, still struck out nine and went 2 for 3 with two RBI and a sacrifice bunt. He also became only the third starting pitcher in the last 90 years to win his first eight decisions after an in-season trade. You probably don’t recall Virgil Trucks’ 8-0 start with the White Sox after being traded from the St. Louis Browns in 1953, but you may know about Doyle Alexander’s spectacular 9-0 pennant-clinching run for the Tigers after coming over from the Braves for John Smoltz (yes, that John Smoltz) in 1987 (yes, it was 21 seasons ago).

It’s hard to describe what CC has brought to this team. He is an inning-eater in an age in which a “quality start” is defined by going six innings. He, and his teammates, knows that this is a short-term rental. The Brewers won’t be signing this guy, not when they have to compete with the Yankees, the Red Sox, and every big-market team out there (he already turned down $72 million from his previous team, the Cleveland Indians). But from the day that Milwaukee has acquired him, he has played like he has Brew for blood (somehow that doesn’t sound as complimentary as I would have hoped), and his team and their fans know it. The crowd of 41,991 last night gave Milwaukee its 16th straight Miller Park sellout and 32nd this season, a new team record, topping the 31 sellouts of 2007.

I am sure that every game he goes to the mound, a pit appears in his wife’s and agent’s stomach for fear of injury. On the other hand, every time he goes out there, he increases his value because not only does he pitch and win, he shows what it is like to have a leader on the mound.

What were the Brewers doing though letting this precious commodity go the distance last night? His pitch count was 111 after eight innings but shortstop J.J. Hardy blew a one-out grounder up the middle, that would have been a game-ending double play and the 9th inning was extended for Sabathia. Additionally, manager Ned Yost left Sabathia out there because upcoming off days will give him an extra day of rest before his next start and two extra days after that. And, the man is a horse.

As explained in this morning’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “It’s not that big a deal,” Sabathia said of his pitch count, which tied for the second highest in the NL this season. “I knew I had an extra day (before pitching again).”

So at the end of the night, Sabathia’s record is 8-0 with a 1.60 ERA. Last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner has won 11 straight decisions overall but, of course, his numbers from the AL don’t count when we consider him for the Cy Young Award. Since joining Milwaukee, Sabathia leads the NL in wins, ERA, complete games, shutouts and innings pitched, but that is only a half season work when it’s all said and done.

The Cy Young Award is a relatively new baseball trophy, initiated in 1956. Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers was the first winner. There was only one winner until 1967, when each league started awarding one. If there were still just one award winner, Sabathia would have a better chance. His 14 overall wins puts him in a tie for 7th best in the majors. Brandon Webb of Arizona leads the majors with 18. His 2.99 ERA is the eleventh best in the majors; Cliff Lee’s 2.43 is the best. His 192 strikeouts tie him with Tim Lincecum for the most in baseball. His 195.1 innings is four more than Roy Halladay for the most and he Halliday are tied for the most complete games with 8. CC’s four shutouts is two better than anyone else in the majors. And, finally his WHIP of 1.16 is good for 15th in the majors but only .05 away from Webb who is in sixth place.

The Brewers are 72-54, .571 today, in second place five games behind the Cubs and leading the Cardinals in the Wild Card race by 2.5 games. Milwaukee picked up Sabathia on July 7 and on that date they were 49-40, .551, in third place 4 games out of first, and trailed the Cards by .5 in the Wild Card hunt. No one questions how hot the Cubs have been since that date going 23-12, but Milwaukee has gone 23-14 and that should not go unnoticed. The Cardinals have gone 20-17 during that same span.

Okay, I know that Brandon Webb is going to be the NL Cy Young Award winner, he’s 18-4 with a sterling 2.85 ERA. Edinson Volquez, 15-5 and a 2.73 ERA for the horrible Reds should probably finish second, but I’m here to tell you, right now in my book Sabathia is no worse than third.

But there is one unknown quantity still to considered in “CC 4 CYA OR…?” How about CC 4 CYA OR NL MVP? Chipper Jones is having a great season at the plate, but how valuable is he? The Braves stink with him or without him. Albert Pujols is having a magnificent season as are Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman and where will the Cardinals, Rockies, and Astros be without these three? Out of the post-season. Where will they be with them? Out of the post-season. The same is true for Carlos Lee and Ryan Ludwick.

So where does that leave us? Well, we could pick someone from the Cubs, but like the great Angels teams, it seems that every game someone else is a hero. Chase Utley’s numbers don’t compare as favorably as Pujols, Holliday or Berkman. Ryan Braun is having a great season for Milwaukee, but the guy who has solidified that team, who will lead them into October is Carsten Charles Sabathia.

These pitchers have won the CYA and the MVP in the same season:
1956 – Don Newcombe (ML Cy Young and NL MVP)
1963 – Sandy Koufax (ML Cy Young and NL MVP)
1968 – Denny McClain (AL Cy Young and AL MVP)
1968 – Bob Gibson (NL Cy Young and NL MVP)
1971 – Vida Blue (AL Cy Young and NL MVP)
1982 – Rollie Fingers (AL Cy Young and AL MVP)
1984 – Willie Hernandez (AL Cy Young and AL MVP)
1986 – Roger Clemens (AL Cy Young and AL MVP)
1992 – Dennis Eckersley (AL Cy Young and AL MVP)

But wouldn’t it be cool if CC became the first pitcher to win the MVP and NOT the Cy?

Start texting.

Top of the 2nd
AL GAMES THAT MATTER
The White Sox moved back into first place as they beat-up the hapless Mariners 13-5 at U.S. Cellular Field, Seattle’s eighth loss in nine games. The Sox hit four homers, for the second straight day, including Carlos Quentin’s major-league-leading 35th. Nick Swisher, Alexei Ramirez, and Orlando Cabrera each homered. Chicago leads the AL in homers with 182. Jarrod Washburn gave up eight runs in 4-1/3 innings and in four starts since the July 31 trade deadline, Washburn is 0-4 with a 7.36 earned-run average. The Sox have won six of their last seven while Seattle has lost eight of nine and 20 of its last 28 games.

Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske hit two-run homers for Tampa Bay, helping Andy Sonnanstine get his 13th win in a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. The Rays improved to an MLB-best 46-17 at home this season. The Angels have the best road mark in baseball (39-24) but are 0-4 in the Rays’ ballpark this season. Troy Percival, Tampa Bay’s closer, opted not to have surgery on his injured right knee and hopes to resume throwing off a mound in four or five days.

There should be no discussion, Jon Lester is the ace of the Red Sox staff. He outpitched Jeremy Guthrie as Jason Bay homered twice and drove in four runs to help the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3. Lester (12-4) allowed one run, four hits and a walk in seven innings to improve to 5-0 lifetime against the Orioles and is 9-1 since May 25.Before May 31, Jon Lester had thrown over 100 pitches just three times in 12 starts. Since then, Lester has gone over 100 pitches 10 times in his 13 outings. In 16 games with the Red Sox, Bay is batting .348 with three homers and 16 RBIs. The Red Sox, who have won eight of 12. Boston is 7-15 against the AL East on the road, including 4-3 against Baltimore.

Kirk Saarloos pitched 3 2-3 shutout innings after Justin Duchscherer left with a hip injury and the A’s held on to defeat the Twins, 3-2. A’s right-hander Brad Ziegler surrendered an RBI triple to Joe Mauer in his first outing since his career opening scoreless streak of 39 innings was snapped. Ziegler tied a 59-year-old major league record for relievers with his streak. He also worked the 9th for his third save in as many chances. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Minnesota. Oakland is now 6-23 since the All-Star break.

Top of the 3rd
NL NEWS
The Pittsburgh Pirates stopped the New York’s six-game winning streak, 5-2. The Buccos trailed 2-0 going to the bottom of the 6th, picked up their 29th comeback victory. Paul Maholm pitched at least six innings for the 19th straight start, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher since Doug Drabek in 1992. Maholm gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings.

CC Sabathia struck out nine, walked two and gave up 11 hits in 130 pitches as the Brewers toped the Astros, 9-3. Milwaukee star Ryan Braun left in the 6th with tightness in his lower back after reaggravating it on a swing. Braun pinch-hit Saturday after the same injury kept him out of six games recently and returned to the starting lineup Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He batted four times against the Astros on Monday, striking out twice.

After acquiring future Hall-of-Famer Manny Ramirez on July 31, the Dodgers are on the verge of acquiring future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux, today. It’s unclear what the Padres will receive in return for the 42-year-old Maddux. MLB.com reported on Monday night that the Padres would receive two players to be named later. A four-time Cy Young Award winner, Maddux has a full no-trade clause in his contract and agreed to waive it to join the Dodgers. He was signed by the Padres in 2007 and returned this season for a $10 million, one-year deal. Maddux has a 3.99 ERA this season but is only 6-9 for the last place Padres. The Dodgers are in a first-place tie with the Diamondbacks. This would be Maddux’s second traded to the Dodgers. The Cubs traded him to Los Angeles at the trade deadline in 2006 and he went 6-3 in the regular season for the Dodgers. Los Angeles lost to the Mets in the divisional series.

Top of the 4th
WILL THE RED SOX AND THE MARINERS CATCH A DEAL?
While the Red Sox have an enormous amount to do left this season, they will be facing a big problem in the off-season behind the plate and the Seattle Mariners might have their answer.

Does the name Heathcliff Slocumb strike a familiar note? It should, somehow Red Sox GM Dan Duquette managed to trade the miserable reliever for two Seattle Mariner youngsters by the names of pitcher Derek Lowe and catcher Jason Varitek resulting in one of the most lopsided trades in big league history.

Now, the question is can current GM Theo Epstein snooker the M’s again. Varitek is a free agent at the end of this year and should consider himself fortunate if he is offered a contract by anyone this coming season. However, if the Boston can deal with Seattle, then a sweet two-year player/coach contract for Tek might satisfy everyone.

I bring this up because the mariners have depth behind the plate. This past off-season, Seattle signed Kenji Johjima, signed to a three-year extension in the spring and while he’s slumping this season, the Mariners as a team are beyond slumping. Johjima is only hitting .218 and he has lost his number one catching slot to youngster Jeff Clement, the Mariners’ catcher of the future. Clement will be 25 in a couple of days and everyne has high hopes for him. Behind these guys is the 37-year old Jamie Burke, who is strictly a backup.

The Mariners catching depth doesn’t end in the majors. Class AAA Tacoma has Rob Johnson behind the plate. Since July 5, after Clement was called up to the majors, Johnson moved from designated hitter to everyday catcher and has hit .395 with five home runs and 19 runs batted in to raise his batting average from .265 to .306. He leads all Pacific Coast League catchers in hitting. And beneath Johnson in Class AA West Tennessee is catcher Adam Moore who is hitting .312 with 11 home runs.

Red Sox Nation study these names, cause I bet Theo is.

Top of the 5th
SCHILLING MAY BE WILLING…TO CALL IT QUITS
The latest from the Curt Schilling blog site indicates that the Senator-in-waiting may be ready to call it a career.

Curt writes:
“I spent yesterday at Fenway catching up with most of the guys and having the honor and privelage (sic) to re-connect with some friends from Dana Farber and help out the EEI folks with the Jimmy Fund. Sat in on a panel with Ray Borque and Glenn Davis talking about playing here and winning, it was a lot of fun and there were some great questions.
The team looks fantastic and the change inside that clubhouse is palpable and tangible (if those two can go together?). Health and the Angels are the only two things I think can stop these guys from bringing home a world series (sic) title. I won’t discount Tampa, or any of the other AL teams but if this team stays healthy I’d have trouble seeing someone stop them come October.”

On the health front, Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed his shoulder surgery had estimated a few hours after it ended that Schilling could be throwing a ball in four months and throwing from a mound within seven months, by late January.

But Schilling writes, “my shoulder is getting better fast. Range of motion is improving greatly and pain is becoming less and less an issue. I’ve still got a rather lengthy amount of time before I decide anything.

My first thoughts a few weeks ago were that maybe I’d work to get healthy and shoot to try and make the WBC team, but I just don’t think that’s in the cards. Next I started thinking about the original plan of pitching the 2nd half of next season. Thing is, that urgency just is not there. I miss some things I didn’t think I would, and don’t miss many things I expected too.

As I stated yesterday the pendulum is swinging very heavily in the direction of it just being over. I’ve never sat around and not gotten ready to head to Florida, well not in 23 or so years anyway, so to me that will likely be the last real test for me and whether or not I want to put the time and effort into getting after it one more time.”

Time to start getting the voters mobilized.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Curt Schilling’s blog http://38pitches.com/ is our site of the day.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles, 7:05 pm
(R) Daisuke Matsuzaka (14-2) vs. (R) Daniel Cabrera (8-7)
Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians, 7:05 pm
(R) Luke Hochevar (6-11) vs. (R) Anthony Reyes (1-1)
New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, 7:07 pm
(R) Darrell Rasner (5-9) vs. (R) A.J. Burnett (15-9)
LA Angels of Anaheim at Tampa Bay Rays, 7:10 pm
(R) Ervin Santana (13-5) vs. (R) James Shields (10-7)
Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers, 8:05 pm
(R) Armando Galarraga (11-4) vs. (R) Vicente Padilla (12-6)
Oakland Athletics at Minnesota Twins, 8:10 pm
(R) Sean Gallagher (1-1) vs. (R) Kevin Slowey (9-8)
Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox, 8:11 pm
(R) Felix Hernandez (7-7) vs. (R) D.J. Carrasco (1-0)
NL
Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 pm
(R) Jason Bergmann (2-9) vs. (R) Joe Blanton (1-0)
Atlanta Braves at New York Mets, 7:10 pm
(L) Jo-Jo Reyes (3-9) vs. (L) Oliver Perez (9-7)
Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs, 8:05 pm
(R) Johnny Cueto (8-11) vs. (R) Rich Harden (2-1)
Houston Astros at Milwaukee Brewers, 8:05 pm
(R) Brian Moehler (8-4) vs. (R) Ben Sheets (11-6)
Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals, 8:15 pm
(R) Ian Snell (4-10) vs. (R) Braden Looper (11-9)
San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 pm
(R) Josh Banks (3-5) vs. (L) Doug Davis (4-7)
Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers, 10:10 pm
(R) Ubaldo Jimenez (8-11) vs. (R) Hiroki Kuroda (7-8)
Florida Marlins at San Francisco Giants, 10:15 pm
(R) Ricky Nolasco (11-7) vs. (R) Kevin Correia (2-6)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
The Mets are 2-7 against the Braves and have nine games left against them starting tonight.

Top of the 9th
DOTTIE COLLINS AND DARRIN WINSTON
Dottie Collins, who starred as a women’s professional baseball pitcher in the 1940s, has died of a stroke in Indiana. She was 84. Collins was known for her six seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was created to provide entertainment during World War II while major league males were off at war. But she later became known for her contributions to recording the history of the women’s games.
Collins helped form an association of former All-American league players in 1987 that provided the Baseball Hall of Fame with memorabilia that led to a Women in Baseball exhibit.

“When I connected with Dottie, the ball started to roll,” Hall of Fame curator Ted Spencer said. “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where it would have gone.”

Former Rutgers University star Darrin Winston, 42, who pitched two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and also played in the minor leagues for several years, died Friday. Winston , a father of six and grandfather of one, had been diagnosed with leukemia on Wednesday. Winston holds the Rutgers University’s career records for victories (26), innings pitched (278) and complete games (22), and was inducted into its hall of fame in 2000. Drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1988, he pitched for the ir organization and in the minors for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and the Los Angeles Angels. His only time in the major leagues came when he appeared in 34 games with Terry Francona’s Phillies over the 1997 and 1998 seasons, posting a 4-2 record and 5.84 ERA. He made his major league debut at the age of 31.

Bottom of the 9th
BUY THE BOOK
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales,” with a Foreword by Jon Miller available now from ACTA Sports.

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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.